Sussex has been told it needs to provide more than 100 extra gipsy and traveller pitches in the next four years.

The number of official pitches is expected to double as local authorities are forced to meet Government targets.

District councils will have to find at least 80 new pitches for traveller families in the east of the county and estimates suggest more than 30 would be needed in the west of the county by 2011.

Consultancy David Couttie Associates has been commissioned by local authorities in East Sussex to investigate the issue and is expected to publish its findings at the end of January.

But The Argus can reveal that East Sussex's five district authorities will become home to at least 34 new pitches.

The rest of the 80 plots are expected to be provided by Brighton and Hove.

Details of West Sussex County Council's targets have yet to emerge but based on previous estimates, another 38 pitches, on top of the current provision for 153, are needed.

The locations of plots will be agreed next year but Lewes District Council has revealed it will find room for five new official pitches.

Wealden District Council is likely to provide the highest number in East Sussex.

Its leader, Nigel Coltman, said the priority was for "transit" sites for travellerss making a temporary base in the area and those illegally camped on privately-owned land.

He said: "In Wealden we have no transit sites. A judge will not grant us the right to move them off unless there is a place for them to go."

He added: "In the right kind of site, in the right place, there's not an issue.

"Wealden has three distinct settled traveller sites and they all run very well. We don't have any issues with the travellers who live on them."

East Sussex councillor Robert Tidy, who has been involved with negotiations, said: "It is not a huge problem to find the sites but where we decide to put the pitches is likely to be contentious."

The figures emerged earlier this month in a report to Lewes's planning committee, which was discussing measures to tackle an illegal encampment at Offham Farm, Offham.

The Government has decided to include a traveller and gipsy strategy as part of regional planning blueprints and the figures will be presented to the South East Regional Assembly next year.

Councils are already taking steps to expand new sites or look for new land for pitches in anticipation.

Hastings and St Leonards has identified three locations for a legal short-stay transit site.

These are: The playing fields behind Bexhill Road in West St Leonards; an area between Summerfields Sports Centre and the ambulance station off Bohemia Road, Hastings, and an area off The Ridge by Sandrock Park and Sandrock Hall, Hastings.

One of these sites will be selected in February and a planning application submitted.

Lewes Cabinet member David Rogers said the extra sites were needed.

He said: "It is a Government requirement that we should review them."

Coun Neil Parkin, leader of Adur District Council, said travellers were well provided for in his district at Withey Patch.

He said: "We have got a permanent site and if anybody illegally camps in Adur that's where we move them on to."

He expects larger districts to improve their provision for to hit Government targets.