Harbour row back on TV


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 .

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  1. I saw this programme and I am amazed that any company can do so much damage to the community and apparently doesnt care a hoot. Barry Yates said that anybody gathering fruit from BlackBerry bushes were warned of possible contamination from chemicals from this plant. Shocking one of the joys of autumn was picking the berries and what about the wild life they would be poisoned as well. I give up.

    • Joan, I’m afraid you need to rewatch the programme on catch up before you make incorrect statements.

      The historical pollution that has led to the suggestion not to eat the blackberries it doesn’t have anything to do with Longrake Spar. Wildlife thrive in this area as do the fish, pollution is bad, the blackberries or mushrooms have never hurt me (yet)

  2. As far as I can see Long Rake Spar are a legitimate business providing ‘legal, decent and honest’ employment. I do support the Nature Reserve but truly cannot see grounds for stopping LRS activity. Surely it will be no more noisy or polluting than during the daytime working. How many people actually live nearby?… Could we not benefit from a more positive partnership approach? https://www.longrakespar.co.uk/environmental/

  3. Signs warning against eating blackberries in that area have been in existence for several years before Longrake Spar even took over the site. Ground contamination was discovered there many years ago and monitored. Other firms have been blamed for this in the past and exonerated. Chemicals including tar products have been produced and processed in the harbour industrial area for more than a century, most of the ground contamination is historical. Some is even residual from old creosote sleepers used on the Harbour branch line railway. To suggest that Longrake Spar are now responsible for poisoning blackberries does the argument against their activities no good whatsoever, let’s at least try to stick to some facts !

  4. There is no connection (or suggestion) between LRS and the pollution that may be in the Blackberries – the connection is with industry long gone – there is a legacy of a cocktail of toxic chemicals under the industrial land and part of the SSSI, it’s historical. We have no issue with LRS other than the cases of them not adhering to their current planning permission and their proposal of 24/7 operation with associated noise, light and dust pollution. We all want vibrant local industry, but not at the expense of residents, visitors and wildlife.
    Here’s the clip https://youtu.be/qSuUNapVZ_E (note the carefully chosen words “long history” and “legacy”)
    Residents have tried to establish a liaison group with the company, but no meetings so far… which is a pity.

  5. Contamination in the Harbour Road goes back to the 1860’s when the tar works was established, if you were in the area in the early 90’s you’ll remember the campaign to close the chemical works and the work done to stop the ground contamination leaching towards the bird reserve.
    There were concrete works up and down the Harbour Road including one in the middle of the village and anyone who knows anything about harmful substances will tell you how harmful cement dust is.
    All of this was before the bird reserve arrived and wildlife thrived along side it.
    The chemical works is alive with wild life, wagtails nesting in among the barrels, seagulls on the tops of tanks, pigeons in the main building all breathing the air and happily nesting and reproducing at an alarming rate.
    The laboratory at night also brings out an amazing array of moths and anything else with wings.
    Foxes amble through on their way out and again on the way home and there was even an occasion when a ferret was found wandering round the yard.
    Did I mention the rats……………………

  6. Actually it is a wonder any wildlife survives at the harbour, the amount of rubbish, old cars, and other toxic materials that were put in Carters hole,and the slury pit at Spun concrete over the years.

  7. The clip Barry links to above is well worth a watch – even if just for the fantastic footage of the Harbour. Countryfile (and UK Unchecked, who are also featured) are making a valid point about the ability of regulators to do their jobs properly. As for Long Rake Spar, Natural England have asked that they go through the process of assessing the impacts of their proposals on wildlife and to propose mitigation as necessary – this presumably isn’t controversial?


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