Bexhill to Hastings link road protesters take to trees

Tree protester Portesters climbed trees on the route of the road to try to stop them being felled

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Protesters against a new road planned in East Sussex have launched a campaign to try to stop work going ahead.

About 20 activists climbed trees in Combe Valley on the route of the Bexhill to Hastings link road on Friday as contractors moved in to fell trees.

Strong winds and rain meant work along a disused railway line was called off after a stand-off of several hours.

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) said the road was "crucial" to regenerate the deprived local economy.

Combe Haven Defenders said they would continue their protest.

"We are going to be here every day they are trying to work in the valley and we can see it becoming a national issue with more and more people coming down here," said spokesman Patrick Nicholson.

Sussex Police said officers were at the site on Friday but they did not have to take any action against the protesters.

'Real benefits'

The protest group's website called for more campaigners to head to Combe Valley on Saturday, but a Sussex Police spokeswoman said she was not aware of any activity at the site.

The £93.8m link road, which has been under discussion for 20 years, finally received the go-ahead in March, when the government confirmed it would contribute £56m.

The road will link the A259 and B2092, crossing Combe Haven Valley near a site of special scientific interest.

Protesters failed in their bid for a judicial review in October.

ESCC said environmental work, including archaeological surveys and creating new habitats for wildlife, began in July.

Main construction of the road will begin early in the New Year.

Council leader Peter Jones said: "This road will bring real benefits to Hastings and Bexhill, including better access to jobs; fewer cars using roads that aren't suitable for them; opportunities for housing and business development; and a reduction in the number of accidents on local roads.

"The road will make it possible to build 1,200 to 2,000 new homes and business park space of 50,000 square metres.

"It is for these reasons we believe the road is so important to the area."

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