I’ve been asked my opinion about the proposal put forward by the Environmental Agency to allow the sea to encroach naturally, making a salt marsh, in the area of the Cuckmere Valley around the Exceat which, I understand, has the status of a National Park or something of that sort of status.
Well, like all questions that I’m asked about anything I can longer give a simple answer to what appears to be a simple question. So right from the beginning this blog could be a rambling of tributaries of thought, ranging from climate change to food production & the science of public opinion & how to win it over to a particular agenda.
So here we go then. First of all, what is meant by letting the sea water come in? How far will the sea water be allowed to come in? Water will always find it’s own level unless it is controlled. How much will it cost to control it? Will the local people be told exactly the proposed plan in detail & expenditure? & the expense of maintaining the staus quo? Bearing in mind that precedents can be made where others would want to follow in parts of England’s coastline with similar erosion problems.
What I see is the erosion of trust between developers & the F.T index & hedge funds etc. & politicians at both local & national level, whose irksome task is to broker between various interested parties. If society can get back to trust & goodwill & to the providing of good, factual, relevant information. Then perhaps this issue of climate change & food production & power supply etc. can be addressed & move forward in a smooth, amicable way to everyone’s advantage, but there’s the rub. Hey, I haven’t rambled as much as I thought I would!
While we are on the subject of the Cuckmere Valley, the best time I remember it is around 1966 – 1968, before it was sanitised by Sussex County Council. Not that that was altogether a bad thing, of course. It’s good to have public facilities like toilets etc. but I’m remembering it in a nostalgic way, & I guess with the nostalgia of those times, which for me means I would have been 18 – 20. I remember the assortment of holiday caravans in different states of condition just this side of the shingle bank where the basic amenities were just a tap & a basic sewage system where you emptied your chemical toilets.
I also remember when I was a gardener at the Golden Galleon restaurant at Exceat I made a raft of the drift wood that I collected at the estuary & at the time when the tide was in flood I intended to float on this raft back up to the Golden Galleon. Well, that was the idea. In actual fact from the time I noticed that the tide was in flood to the time I got down to the estuary the tide had turned & instead of floating up the river, in a Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn fantasy, I was going out to sea. I had an Alsation dog, whose name was Gretel, with me, which incidentally the owners of the restaurant offered to let me keep because she pined when I wasn’t there. I only worked there one day a week. She realised the danger before I did & got off the raft & swam to the shore & I followed her, doing the doggy paddle come breast stroke & thus avoiding a calamity at sea which could have been fatal. I didn’t have a life jacket, of course, & the raft wasn’t that well constructed. I would have liked to have kept Gretel but at the time I was living in a flat that didn’t allow dogs so both Gretel & I had to deal with the emotional stress of separation in the best way that we could.
Back to the question of flooding the Catchments, which is another term for that area. There is in the church at West Dean, which is just a couple of miles inland or so, historical information which says that one of our Kings, it might have been Canute, sheltered there with his fleet from the invading Danes when the sea came right up to West Dean, & I suppose at that time Alfriston would have had some sort of little harbour. It’s fascinating stuff & it reminds us all that whatever goes around comes around, including sea levels. I suppose if this question was asked in Holland about letting the sea reclaim the land the political & social psyche & mindset would be different to ours.
One last point I would like to make. To all those outside the UK who have visited my site, especially those in the U.S.A from where my website gets most attention, I would like to invite you to take a vacation & spend some time around this place of outstanding national beauty around the Cuckmere. Also you can enjoy hearing my song ‘The Cuckmere Valley’ with it’s photographs of the area on Youtube.
Click on the icon to hear the ‘Chalkhill Blue’ song. Chalkhill blue butterfly 2