Lose-lose on our shrinking planet

From: Michael Woodhouse, Oakfield Road, Hastings

I see that the battle of Robertsbridge has begun.

Already opponents are hurling different statistics at each other about the impact of a level crossing.

I am neutral about the railway. I hope to ride on it, but – more importantly – it would be good to see fair play, and less obfuscation and unnecessary one-sided promotion. I feel we are trying to hurry it through.

One might predict from the Observer (May 25) that a level-crossing will be constructed, but only when other options have been found – or clearly presented as – impractical.

A curious thing is that both MPs (whom I respect) are separately quoted as referring to ‘further level crossings’ and ‘a new level crossing on the A21’. There are no level crossings on the A21! I would regard just one of these as a misquote but both?

It seems not impossible there is some carelessly unconscious conspiracy to condition us to the idea of the level crossing.

The whole article makes me feel manipulated, as if to reassure me there is no need for a proper scrutiny of the plans for the railway, and that we must get on with it.

Again, your interesting and informative piece (Observer, May 27) hides further propaganda and reads like a sales promotion. The delightful photograph of a steam train of about 1900 is misleading.

What we now have, and will have, on the line are what one Robertsbridge resident called “great stinking things” from around 1950.

And the dismissively specious: “It will enhance the beauty” of the Rother Valley, “preserving an area of outstanding natural beauty”.

Really? It would not destroy it (as the Link Road has done with Combe Haven, transforming a wonderful diversity into drab uniformity looking like the road network north of Eastbourne) but would tend to spoil yet another of those peaceful local valleys.

It is great appreciation, not development, of our local area that can help preserve its distinctive attraction: low hills rising from small floodplains, sometimes hidden, sometimes suddenly revealed from above (as in this particular stretch), the abrupt junction between the two, with orchid woods and surprisingly swift streams in small ghylls seeming to chase long vanished seas which (scientific bit) caused their steepening gradients.

Humphrey Atkinson (Observer, May 18) advises us to go online for an informed opinion on all this. My information is that these presentations are economical with the truth, which hints at something more seriously wrong.

Regarding “discussions with landowners”. I have talked with locals (and also in Tenterden) and they are not awkward hagglers but traditional farmers with wildlife rich meadows who are threatened with compulsory purchase.

They would get a miserable sum, considering the low value of agricultural land.

It is always lose-lose for some on our shrinking planet as we tread increasingly on one another’s toes.

For more than those in Robertsbridge who face the unwelcome alternatives of expansion or the inability of their village to cope with disruption and change.