Newhaven port campaign fails in Supreme Court

Protesters on Newhaven beach Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption The Court of Appeal last year ruled West Beach could be registered as a village green

A campaign to register Newhaven's West Beach as a village green and protect it from future development has failed.

The Supreme Court ruled in favour of Newhaven Port and Properties (NPP), which is developing parts of the port.

NPP said it was pleased common sense had prevailed and it would take time to consider the decision's implications.

Newhaven Town Council described it as devastating news for residents who had used the beach for generations before its closure in 2008.

In a statement, NPP said: "The Supreme Court has confirmed that land which forms part of a statutory undertaking and is part of the harbour within the statutory limits and land which is controlled by byelaws, cannot be registered as a village green.

"NPP appreciates this decision will be a disappointment to campaigners."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Campaigners said plans to expand the port could mean the loss of a popular surfing beach

To be registered as a village green, land must have been used by a significant number of local residents "as of right", for a period of at least 20 years.

But Supreme Court judges decided the public enjoyed "an implied licence", arising from the byelaws and therefore the use was not "as of right".

NPP said it was now focusing on its plans for regeneration of the port, which it said would bring much-needed jobs and benefits.

A separate Save Our Wave campaign is being run by local surfers who are concerned that another beach, Tide Mills Beach, will be affected by NPP development nearby.

Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, said: "The battle carries on. This is Newhaven's beach. People have grown up with this beach, they want it back.

"I am going to carry on until we get it back. I am going to see the port manager to try to negotiate access to the beach. This issue will not go away," he said.

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Media captionThe Court of Appeal last year ruled West Beach could be registered as a village green

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