Transport Secretary says "no!" to new roads
Friends of the Earth has warmly welcomed transport secretary, Stephen Byers' decision to reject the proposed Hastings bypasses.
Why these roads offered little for Hastings
Friends of the Earth is part of the Hastings Alliance, which brings together national and local environment and transport organisations as well as local residents, to focus on achieving sustainable regeneration for Hastings.
This alliance opposed the proposed roads on the grounds that:
- Massive environmental damage would have been caused in the surrounding area including classified locations - 3 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
- The bypasses would not have solved local transport problems because the vast majority of the traffic is local, heading into or out of Hastings
- The economic case for the roads was riddled with flaws and doubts - new jobs might have been created in neighbouring Bexhill, but jobs would have been lost in central Hastings, the area most in need of regeneration
Friends of the Earth commissioned a report, "New Jobs without New Roads (PDF format) - sustainable regeneration for Hastings" which was launched and circulated to the Government a few weeks prior to the decision being made.
Tony Bosworth, Transport Campaigner for Friends of the Earth said :
"This report shows that new roads aren't needed to bring new jobs to Hastings. Sustainable regeneration plans can create 2500 new jobs for local people without destroying what makes Hastings special. We believe that this report was a key factor in the Government's decision not to go ahead with these roads".
Why the Government said "no"
The Government concluded that the study behind the proposal:
"...did not build a convincing regeneration case for the bypasses - it concluded the bypasses could possibly help to generate employment in the area but this would not necessarily help those in most need.
There would be reduced congestion in some areas of the town but the position would get worse in other areas.
Against these rather weak arguments we had to place the evidently severe implications for the environment..."
What happens now
Now that this "Battle of Hastings" has been won, Friends of the Earth, through the Hastings Alliance, can concentrate on working with the local council and others to provide solutions to boost sustainable regeneration and hence a bright future for the people of Hastings. "New Jobs without New roads" will be a key factor in this work.
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