Government funding is yet to be approved for a £92 million road – despite work now entering its sixth week.

East Sussex County Council is relying on £56.9 million of Department for Transport (DfT) money to pay for the controversial Bexhill to Hastings link road.

However, a Freedom of Information request has revealed that senior ministers are yet to approve the vital funds.

Campaign groups are now calling on the government to stop the “irresponsible” local authority continuing with clearing work.

Derrick Coffee, from the Hastings Alliance group, said: “It’s disgraceful, they’re going round chopping down these 400-year-old oaks without knowing whether they have actually got funding in place.

“We are calling on them to stop immediately and have launched a petition asking the government to refuse funding.”

The controversial development was approved in principle following George Osborne’s budget last March.

The plans were progressed through the summer and autumn before a final business plan was submitted to the (DfT) for approval in December.

Although approval was not expected until at least February, the council sent in the bulldozers and chainsaws a week before Christmas.

Provisional approval

From the start, workers have been met by protesters opposing the scheme. A DfT spokesman confirmed the situation adding that any work carried out before approval would be at the council’s “own risk”.

He added: “We gave the scheme provisional approval in March 2012. Ministers will now look at the business case and will need to satisfy themselves that nothing has changed substantially before giving full approval.

“The proposer is entitled to start preliminary work before receiving full approval and funding from the Department, and this is not uncommon, but it is at their own risk.”

Andrea Needham, from the Combe Haven Defenders, said: “People ask us why we bother but it is clear they still have a few hurdles to get over.

Battle of Hastings

“No matter what Peter Jones likes to think, if they don’t get the funding, they can’t build the road.”

Following the revelation, the Hastings Alliance started on online petition calling on the government to not agree to the funding. In just two days they have gathered 700 signatures.

Meanwhile, Michael Bernard from the Bexhill Link Road Resistance Group, resubmitted his legal challenge to the High Court to reflect the latest revelation.

He is calling on the council to stop work on the road following new evidence which suggests the Battle of Hastings took place on the planned site.

At the time of going to press, the county council had not responded.

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