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Protestors block Bexhill link road construction

Tree-climbing environmental activists evoking the spirit of Swampy forced East Sussex County Council to stop work on the £86M Bexhill to Hasting link road over the weekend.

On Friday contractors for the council had been attempting to fell trees along the route of the proposed road, but protestors calling themselves the Combe Haven Defenders were able to gain access to the site and climb the trees. Tree felling had to be halted to avoid the risk of harm coming to the protestors.

“After a stand-off with protesters in trees and on the ground, the chainsaw contractors have gone home!” said the protest group’s website.

Around 30 protestors initially occupied trees and successfully blockaded an access track for over two hours.

After a series of confrontations, contractors and security guards retreated, and at around 12.30pm made the decision to abandon work for the day.

Today some contractors, security and police came to site but have just left, according to the protestors website.

The group is now urging more supporters to join its cause. It believes the scheme will destroy the Combe Haven valley and argues that alternatives have not been considered.

But the government backs the scheme and announced it would provide £56M towards its cost in the Budget in March.

The council says the scheme will bring economic benefits of £1bn by facilitating construction of a new business park and up 2,000 new homes. It has planning permission and has been through a public inquiry process.

The High Court refused an application for a judicial review into the inquiry decision in October.

The council is still waiting on a final funding decision from government, but was attempting to start preliminary works such as tree clearance to allow it to start work in anger as soon as funding is confirmed. Compulsory Purchase Orders were confirmed in September.

Construction proper is due to start in January.

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