Sussex

Hastings Bexhill £120m link road opens amid protests

Protest at launch event
Image caption Campaigners said they still wanted to show it was "wrong"

A controversial road linking two Sussex towns has opened to traffic after a protest disrupted a launch event.

The Hastings to Bexhill link road has cost £120m and was due to open in May.

East Sussex County Council said the scheme had been delayed by protests, extreme weather and archaeological work and it was "fantastic" to see it completed.

But campaigners who disrupted a launch event on Wednesday said they still wanted to show it was "wrong".

Andrea Needham, from the Combe Haven Defenders, said: "They are going to open the road now. We can't stop that.

"But [we want] to make a very strong statement that this is utterly wrong, this is utterly irresponsible and a massive waste of public money."

Image caption Council leader Keith Glazier said it would regenerate one of the region's most deprived areas

The county council has said the road, now named Combe Valley Way, will bring £1bn of economic benefits to the area, up to 2,000 new homes and 3,000 new jobs.

The authority said the road would also reduce congestion on the A259 by up to 40%.

Council leader Keith Glazier said it would help to regenerate one of the most deprived areas of the South East.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said it would unlock ambitious development plans.

He said the scheme was part of the government's commitment to improving UK infrastructure, and the communities of Bexhill and Hastings had waited a long time for it.

A path for walkers, cyclists and horse riders will be completed next year.

Protests during the construction of the road saw campaigners climb into trees before contractors cleared the route.

They argued the link road would increase traffic and carbon emissions and devastate the "beautiful and tranquil" Combe Haven Valley, near a site of special scientific interest.

Image caption Treetop protests brought work to a standstill when contractors cleared the route

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