Beachy Head rally against South Downs farms sell-off

Protesters against the downlands sale gathered outside Eastbourne Town Hall recently

Protesters against the downlands sale gathered outside Eastbourne Town Hall recently

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Campaigners are taking to Beachy Head this weekend to stage a rally protesting the council sale of four downland farms.

Eastbourne Friends of the Earth (FOE) have organised the rally and walk which starts at Beachy Head Visitor Centre at 10.30am on Saturday (December 3).

Speakers, including Tony Whitbread, CEO of Sussex Wildlife Trust, will explain the issues and history of the land.

Campaigners say that the return of the Eastbourne Downs into private hands will reverse decades of landscape restoration, wildlife protection, and improvements in public access, which will significantly change the nature of the Eastbourne Downs for the worse.

FOE says, “We will put forward an alternative vision for the estate based on the superb past work of Eastbourne Council in increasing public access, and restoring ancient wildlife habitats and landscapes.

“Walkers can do as much, or as little, of the walk as their time and energy allows.

“Bring placards and banners. Let’s make a show of it!”

Green MEP Keith Taylor, CPRE Sussex, the South Downs Society, the Open Spaces Society, the Eastbourne People’s Assembly Against Austerity, the Eastbourne Society, and the Sussex Wildlife Trust have all backed the campaign.

Eastbourne Borough Council announced earlier this year it is selling the four farms – a total of 2,900 acres – to raise millions for projects across the town. It will retain 1,000 acres of open downland including Beachy Head.

A petition calling on the council to stop the sale has gained more than 2,000 signatures, and is available at www.actionnetwork.org/petitions/stop-the-sell-off-of-eastbournes-public-downland