Residents eager to comment on the proposed "Poohaven" sewage scheme were furious after a key public meeting to discuss the plan was held during the day.

Many residents say the meetings about the controversial £200 million sewage scheme should be held in the evenings, when the majority of people are able to attend, rather than in the day when people are working.

A meeting was held on Friday morning last week to discuss arrangements for a possible public inquiry into the Southern Water proposal.

The company wants to build a pumping station, storm water overflow pipe and seven miles (11km) of underground tunnel, which would transport sewage from Black Rock in Brighton to the £200 million treatment centre in Peacehaven.

The plans were approved by Brighton and Hove City Council last month.

But East Sussex County Council also needs to approve plans for the treatment centre at Lower Hoddern Farm, Peacehaven, before work on the scheme can begin.

Both sets of proposals, the second of which will be debated by the county council on March 22, are duplicates of earlier planning applications.

Southern Water lodged appeals for the Government to intervene when the councils were unable to make decisions last year and a public inquiry will be held if the county council turns down the duplicate planning application.

More than 150 people packed a room at the Meridian Centre, Peacehaven, from 10am on Friday for a preinquiry meeting. However, residents said the meetings should be in the evenings to enable the wider community to attend.

Jennifer Crosthwaite, 53, of Pelham Rise, Peacehaven, was unable to attend the meeting because of work.

She said: "People can't just take days off work. Joe Average is at work at the time of day they held the meeting. They should be held in the evening."

Mrs Crosthwaite has lived in her home with her husband Alan, a milkman, for 18 years.

Their home overlooks the site of the proposed sewage works.

Fridaycs meeting was chaired by planning inspector Ken Smith, who would oversee a public inquiry and file a report to the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

Mr Smith said the main issues for the inquiry would include legislation on the treatment and disposal of waste water, East Sussex and Brighton and Hove's waste plans and the layout, scale, open space, appearance and landscaping of the scheme.

John Hodgson, of Peacehaven Residents Opposed to Urban Development, said:

"Unfortunately, that's how public life works.

"There will be an opportunity at the inquiry for people who work to come along to one of the evening sessions."