Inappropriate road schemes have threatened the valley since as long ago as 1904. More recently, in 1995, a road through the valley was proposed during a Transport Planning Conference, which tried unsuccessfully to achieve a local consensus on the best route for an Icklesham bypass. This would have formed a continuation of the proposed Bexhill and Hastings bypasses, themselves the subject of a subsequent, inconclusive Public Inquiry. This was followed by two immensely thorough Multi-Modal Studies. Their main recommendations were accepted by the Secretary of State for Transport, who decided to remove the whole bypass scheme from the government’s road-building programme.

As a concession to the local authorities, however, East Sussex County Council was given permission, and limited funding, to design its own scheme for a new road to link Bexhill and Hastings, a cut-down version of the western section of the rejected bypass proposals. If this were to be built, through traffic would greatly increase and yet again put pressure on the Valley.

Road planning is a slow process and as time passes there is increasing evidence that new roads generate extra traffic, increasing both the very congestion they were designed to alleviate, and the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

There are over 4000 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in England, covering about 7% of the country’s land area. SSSis are the country’s very best wildlife and geological sites. Over half these sites, by area, are internationally important for their wildlife, and many of these are in addition also designated as Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), or Ramsar Sites.

The Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay SSSI has been recently declared, both for its grazing marsh interest and for two specific factors, described below, which relate directly to the wildlife interest of the Brede Valley. It is on the strength of these that the Valley is a strong candidate for inclusion in the SSSI.

1) Lowland ditch systems. The extensive systems of drainage dtches (such as those which drain Walland Marsh and Pett Level) are important examples of lowland slow-moving and eutrophic (nutrient-rich) waters. There is a brackish influence near the sea, and also inland in the larger ditches, or where peat deposits, which leach salt, lie close to the surface. Most of the ditches have high plant species richness.

2) Populations of water voles. The extensive network of ditches, some in association with areas of wet reedbed, provides habitat for large populations of water voles (Arvicola terrestris). The Romney Marsh and Rye Bay SSSI contains the core areas of an extensive local distribution of this species.

The Dungeness to Pett Level Natura 2000 site is designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA), and as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

SPAs are strictly protected sites, classified in accordance with Article 4 of the EC Directive on the conservation of wild birds (79/409/EEC), also known as the Birds Directive. These sites are designated for rare and vulnerable birds, listed in Annex 1 to the Birds Directive, and for regularly occurring migratory species

SACs too are strictly protected sites, designated under the EC Habitats Directive. Article 3 of the Habitats Directive requires the establishment of a European network of important high-quality conservation sites that will make a significant contribution to preserving the 189 habitat types and 788 species identified in Annexes I and II of the Directive (as amended). The listed habitat types and species are those considered to be most in need of conservation at a European level (excluding birds). Of the Annex I habitat types, 78 are believed to occur in the UK. Of the Annex II species, 43 are native to, and normally resident in, the UK.

As a wetland of international importance, the Natura 2000 site has also been designated under the Ramsar Convention 1971, an intergovernmental treaty to promote national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

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