Church school pupils in West Sussex will have to pay to travel to school after council bosses approved the introduction of controversial fees.

From September 2008, new pupils at the county's Catholic and Church of England schools will have to pay up to £90 per term to cover travel costs.

One in four parents in the area currently send their children to schools outside of their catchment area and meet the extra costs themselves.

But parents sending their children to church schools get free travel.

West Sussex County Council said £860,000 was spent last year on ferrying 1,900 church school pupils to and from their lessons - costing taxpayers £450 per child.

Councillor Mark Dunn said: "I have been made very aware of the range of strong feelings on this issue, both for and against any changes.

"However, this change is necessary to ensure that we are providing a fair system for all concerned whilst continuing to make provision for children to attend church schools some way from their homes."

He added: "At the same time the county council has been put under pressure to find ways to ensure that its budgets are used cost-effectively at a time of poor grant settlements from government.

"I recognise and value the significant contribution that church schools make to the education of children in West Sussex and every effort will be made to ensure that these changes are introduced as smoothly as possible."

The council said existing travel arrangements would continue and stressed that families on low incomes would continue to receive free transport.