Sussex countryside is under threat from secret plans for a second M25, according to a new report.

Environmental group Transport 2000 today said the South East faced a bleak future of overdevelopment and congestion.

Its report is entitled The Threat Of A Second M25: The South-East As The Los Angeles Of Europe.

It warns of emerging plans to build a second orbital motorway outside the route of the M25.

Author Jonathan Bray believes the road would act as a catalyst for wider plans in the region, including new homes and expansion at Gatwick.

Environmentalists predict the region faces a third more traffic by 2016, a doubling of air travel by 2020, thousands of new homes by 2031 and an increase of 45 per cent in tonnage through South-East ports by 2016.

Mr Bray said: "Overall, the South-East is stumbling towards a nightmare future of chronic overheating and overdevelopment, a future of concrete and tyres - more like Los Angeles than the Garden of England."

Director of Transport 2000 Stephen Joseph added: "This is not just an environmentalist's bad dream but a real possibility that should send a chill down the spine of all those who live in this corner of England."

Meanwhile, Brighton and Hove City Council chiefs yesterday signalled their approval for further development at Gatwick providing better transport links are agreed.

Council Leader Ken Bodfish said Brighton and Hove stood to reap 'huge economic benefits' from having a major international airport on its doorstep.

Gatwick has the capacity to handle 40 million passengers a year. One additional runway parallel to the existing one would increase this to 62 million and create thousands of extra jobs.

A Department for Transport spokesman said no plans had yet been made and the Government was still inviting options.