TIMES FRIDAY JULY 13 2001
Hastings bypass blocked
BY LAURA PEEK
THE Government was accused yesterday of surrendering to “eco-tyrants” after it rejected a plan to build twin bypasses outside Hastings.
Stephen Byers, the Transport Secretary, ruled out the proposed £120 million east and west bypasses near the ancient battleground. The Government had been expected to approve the scheme. Environmentalists had threatened a repeat of the 1996 Newbury bypass stand-off, in which police battled for months with eco-warriors who roped themselves to trees and burrowed underground. Some activists believed the Hastings scheme to be a stealth move towards a Devon to Dover motorway.
With transport the fourth of Labour’s second-term priorities, it cannot afford a major road row.
“They did not want to get in a mess over something that is significant at a local level but less significant at a national level,” said Andrew Foster, the editor of Local Transport Today.
The bypasses would have created a 13-mile road around Hastings and neighbouring Bexhill, through two sites of special scientific interest — Pevensey Levels and Combe Haven. Instead, the Government has proposed a transport package for Hastings that includes the possibility of “dualling” the A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury.
Peter Jones, the Conservative leader of East Sussex County Council, said: “They are too scared to stand up to the eco-tyrants.”