12:20pm Monday 17th December 2012
By Tim Ridgway
Protesters have warned of a “return to the 1990s” of tree-living and tunnel-burrowing as they look to halt the construction of a £94 million link road.
Work to clear part of the route for the new Bexhill to Hastings highway, which could be used by up to 30,000 vehicles a day, began on Friday, December 14.
Advocates claim the scheme will create jobs and business space, while creating room for new homes.
But campaigners have pledged to continue opposing the scheme, even if it involves non-violent protest.
It comes as two people were arrested over the weekend following clashes between groups over the chopping down of trees.
A further protestor chained himself to a 4x4 belonging to the contractors at about 12.30pm yesterday (December 16) but was released at about 2pm and not arrested.
Gabriel Carlyle, spokesman for the Combe Haven Defenders group, claimed about 50 people, mainly locals, had been involved in protests.
'Doesn't make sense'
He added: “Whichever way you look at the project, whether it’s from an environmental or economic sense, it doesn’t make any sense.
“We will continue non-violent resistance. If it carries on I can see no reason why we will not return to the 1990s of people living in trees, going down tunnels and locking themselves to moving vehicles.
“If you look back to then, some of the battles were lost but the ultimate war was won as 300 of the schemes were dropped.”
The link road, which has been under discussion for 20 years, received the go-ahead in March.
It will join the A259 and B2092 by crossing a section of countryside known as Combe Haven Valley.
Main construction work will begin early in the new year but clearing work has already started in Adam’s Farm in Crowhurst, near Hastings, and London Road, Bexhill.
Mr Carlyle, who lives in St Leonards, said: “It’s a national issue as it’s the first of over 190 road projects the Government want to create.
“It's not just about the future of Combe Haven; it’s about the future of the transportation system of Britain.”
East Sussex County Council leader Peter Jones said in a statement: “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.”
A spokesman for Sussex Police confirmed a woman was arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass and obstructing a court official in Adam’s Farm at about 12.30pm on Saturday (December 15).
He added another woman was arrested for failing to give her name and address after committing antisocial behaviour in the Bexhill site.
The spokesman said there are no reports of any damage or injury.
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