BBC TV’s Countryfile programme last weekend featured Rye Harbour and the Nature Reserve’s Dr Barry Yates (on left in photo above) as it looked at the ongoing row about the activities of aggregate company Long Rake Spar who are seeking planning permission from Rother District Council for 24 hour working.
The company’s own statement failed to mention that it was next to a nature reserve and an SSI, a site of Special Scientific Interest, but the BBC’s focus was very much on such sites and how government cuts may affect what happens in Rye Harbour.
Residents have complained about the impact of noise, dust and night time work on their lives, and the impact on wildlife may be even greater – but where is the evidence?
The BBC said Natural England (NE) had not assessed the site for 10 years, though some wildlife – like the rare marshmallow moth – was comparatively new, and a very high number of SSIs had not been checked out for six years following massive cuts to NE’s budgets and staff.
The Environment Agency’s budget had also been cut by two thirds, the BBC said, with the consequence that enforcement activity had been cut back, and neither the government department (Defra) nor Natural England were willing to put up a spokesperson for the BBC programme.
However, the consequence of the cuts is that the nature reserve and Sussex Wildlife Trust do not have access to current government information in order to oppose the planning permission for 24 hour working.
The government has said it is setting up an Office for Environmental Protection, but no information is available on its funding or powers, but for now, as the BBC pointed out, Rye Harbour is fighting an aggregate company with both hands tied behind its back.
And there is also the question of traffic which Highways England has expressed concern about, in addition to the Rye Harbour residents’ worries.
Image Credits: Rye Bay Harbour resident .