Bexhill Hastings Link Road treetop protesters cleared

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

Six protesters who staged treetop protests in their campaign against the Bexhill Hastings Link Road have been found not guilty of trespassing.

The group had climbed into trees before contractors cleared the route.

They had denied all charges against them and faced trial in Hastings. Verdicts were given by Brighton magistrates earlier.

Before the hearing, defendant Tom Druitt, of Osmond Road, Hove, said their actions were justified.

The group, who call themselves the Combe Haven Defenders, carried out the protest on 16 January last year.

The other five defendants were Alistair Cannall, of no fixed address, Kim Harrison, of Green Lanes, London, Valerie Archer, of Mornington Grove, London, Maria Gallastegui, of Grays Inn Road, London, and Adrian Hopkins, of The Marina, St Leonards.

'Valley devastation'

East Sussex County Council has repeatedly said the road is "crucial" to regenerate the local economy.

Transport spokesman Councillor Carl Maynard has said it will bring huge economic benefits, free up land for housing and business, ease congestion on the A259 and lead to about 3,000 new jobs.

Before the hearing, Mr Druitt said: "Regardless of whether we are convicted or not, our actions were completely justified.

"The people on trial should be those who pushed this scheme through the funding and approval process.

"Their actions will result in not only increased carbon emissions once the road opens, but also the devastation of Combe Haven, a once beautiful and tranquil river valley.

"Building new roads at a time when we are facing catastrophic climate change is utterly wrong."

The £113m link road is due to be completed next year.

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