THE cost of a controversial link road through the Sussex countryside has grown by more than £100 million since its initial estimate.

The latest budget for Bexhill to Hastings Link Road (BHLR) has been confirmed as £124.3 million – five times what consultants said it would cost 14 years ago.

That figure could still grow further as the final cost of the scheme will not be confirmed for another seven years as the legal and financial settlement is finalised.

Protesters have criticised East Sussex County Council for allowing costs to spiral out of control on the “ruinously expensive” project.

But the local authority claimed the original estimate was not based on the final route of the road, with its completion to bring £1 billion to the local economy, up to 2,000 new homes, 3,000 new jobs and reduce A259 congestion by up to 40 per cent.

The road opened to motorists in December and a review of its construction will be carried out in the summer once work on surrounding wildlife sites is completed.

Green party activist Andrew Durling said the scheme was calculated by the Department for Transport in 2011 as the worst "value for money" road scheme as well as the worst for CO2 emissions.

Mr Durling, who said local taxpayers would have to foot £68.3 million of costs with the rest coming from central government, added: “East Sussex County Council has squandered, and continues to squander, huge sums of council taxpayers money on just three miles of new road at a time when it is making nearly £40 million of cuts to adult social care services.

“In allowing the costs of building the BHLR to spiral out of control, East Sussex County Council has made its budget situation significantly worse than it already was.”

A study by consultants on behalf of the Government Office of the South East in August 2002 put costs of the road at £24 million based on 2001 prices.

That figure rose to £47 million by the time it was given formal approval two years later and has now more than doubled again to the latest figure agreed at budget council this month.

Council officials said the latest figure included the additional costs of dealing with protestors and completing extensive archaeology work along the route.

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “No such figure was ever given as an estimate for the agreed route of the BHLR project.

“The £24million figure was quoted in a study prepared by consultants on behalf of the Government Office of the South East.

"The study was published two years before the route of the new road was agreed and surveys and feasibility studies were carried out and was also based on prices from 2001.”