Commuters, not dog walkers, cause Ashdown Forest pollution, says Observer

Commuters are the real cause of high levels of pollution on the Ashdown Forest, our Saturday independent columnist, Observer, opines, and despairs (yet again) of train operator Southern.


Traffic pollution levels are at critical levels on the Ashdown Forest, a Wealden District Council report said this week.

It is no surprise but it is good to have the facts.

Protection of the forest has been a huge issue in determining planning applications in Uckfield and villages around this protected landscape.

It has led to the establishment of a new park (yet to open) at Little Horsted and another at Crowborough intended to encourage dog walkers in particular to stay local and not drive up on to the forest to let their animals get some exercise.

The cost of these parks fall upon the developer, eventually, and it wouldn’t surprise me if that is one reason why there is only a 15% requirement for affordable housing, instead of the 35% people in Uckfield sought at Ridgewood Farm.

Putting that to one side, the discussion in the Dog and Duck went like this.

If housing has been held back in Uckfield and elsewhere to protect the forest, why is the level of pollution still so high?

The answer, the sage of Uckfield said, was not families walking their dogs and folk going for an afternoon stroll.

Isn’t the real issue, the number of drivers going across the forest to get to work in Crawley and Gatwick Airport?

Many will be using the ‘back roads’ to avoid the congestion in East Grinstead.

The argument continued: bans and restrictions have made the situation worse because people in the building trade are now working  in north Sussex because projects dried to a trickle in Wealden.

Furthermore, the 1,000 new homes at Ridgewood will generate more traffic across the forest with people heading to better paid work.

Perhaps worrying about where Fido walks isn’t the issue at all.

On the trains

Southern and the train drivers who are members of ASLEF reached a deal a this week.

How did Southern celebrate the occasion?

It managed to provide an appalling evening peak “service” on the Uckfield Line; perhaps one of the worst ever; but the company has so many appalling days that it is hard to judge.

It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that some people did not get home at all.

Shambles, omnishambles and still the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling keeps his job.

See also:

Remembrance services in Uckfield

East Hoathly Bonfire: parking curbs


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