Bexhill-to-Hastings road protesters 'caused year's delay'

Tree protester Protesters took to trees on the route of the Bexhill to Hastings link road in December to try to stop them from being felled

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Protesters campaigning against a new link road in East Sussex have delayed building work by a year, the county council leader has said.

Last week about 30 activists were evicted from two camps set up in Combe Haven Valley to halt the construction of the £93.8m Bexhill to Hastings road.

They have vowed to fight on and have since set up a third camp nearby.

Councillor Peter Jones said the actions of the protesters had cost the council hundreds of thousands of pounds.

"A lot of these people come from all over the country... there is deep, public local opposition to what they're doing," he said.

Patrick Nicholson, from the Combe Haven Defenders, said activists were planning to remain at the third camp for some time.

Trespass and obstruction

"If we do get moved out of this camp we're going to continue protesting in the valley with other camps and protest action.

"Our argument is that this is the wrong way to spend £100m," he said.

"We are trying to make the council rethink and spend that money on things that people really need."

Sussex Police said 19 activists had been arrested since work on the link road began last December.

Twelve of them have been charged with offences including aggravated trespass and obstruction.

Some have protested by building tree houses and digging tunnels and then securing themselves with locks which had to be dismantled by bailiffs.

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

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