Green MEP visits Hastings to campaign against Hastings Old Town marina plans

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, visited Hastings on Friday, 6 April to highlight local green campaigners’ opposition to Marina development plans for Hastings Old Town.

The senior Green politician spoke alongside green campaigners opposed to the “risky and speculative” Marina development at a public meeting at the Hastings & St Leonards Angling Association on Friday afternoon.

Of the Marina plans, Keith echoed locals’ concerns:

“The proposal could cause permanent damage to some of the most precious assets of Hastings. Whether that’s the natural heritage of the Rock-a-Nore cliffs, the Stade with its 1000-year-old fishing beach or the medieval Old Town and the historic sites of Hastings Castle and East and West Hill. These are all the very things that make Hastings a very special place.” 

Keith delivered the following speech at the public meeting:

Thank you for the kind invitation to come and speak with you today.

I have been saddened to hear about the plans from Hastings Borough Council for a huge marina development not far from where we are this afternoon.

The proposal could cause permanent damage to some of the most precious assets of Hastings. Whether that’s the natural heritage of the Rock-a-Nore cliffs, the Stade with its 1000-year-old fishing beach or the medieval Old Town and the historic sites of Hastings Castle and East and West Hill. These are all the very things that make Hastings a very special place.

The development would destroy the character of one of the best-loved parts of our town and its scale and character would be utterly out of keeping with the small beach-launched fishing fleet, unspoiled beaches, cliffs and fishing huts.

Environmentally speaking, the site is completely inappropriate for such a massive development. This development would be on the edge of an existing Area of Outstanding Natural beauty and is renowned as an area of archaeological importance. While the cliffs are rich in fossils and have yielded many dinosaur specimens. While the plans from Natural England to make this stretch of coast a Special Protection Area for marine life would most certainly be put on ice. This area is renowned for its natural beauty- whether it’s the rock pools found at low tide on Rock-a-Nore or the views over the Channel from the Country Park. But that’s exactly why Hastings has many visitors who want to see its charms.

As is the case with so many of these new developments, we have no assurances so far that any amount of the housing will be genuinely affordable for the sons and daughters of local people. If it follows the all-too-frequently told story of developers, they can talk about ‘viability’ and dumb down any notion of affordable homes.

We are here today in Hastings and St. Leonards Angling Association which was established in 1895 and inshore fish stocks relied upon by the local fishing fleet could be put under direct threat if this development goes ahead. There are questions about a drop in fish stocks due to pollution and how the fishing fleet would have to share a congested harbour entrance with leisure boats.

I agree with almost everyone here in Hastings: the town needs investment but it needs investment that will benefit the local community: we have all been so pleased that the pier has been putting Hastings back on the map and it has hit the right tone: new development that will help the town needs to be in the right place and on an appropriate scale.

I very much stand with the local Hastings Green Party in their call that Hastings Old Town is put forward as a UNESCO heritage site and joins sites such as Bath and Stonehenge.