Climate activists have occupied the grounds of a disused school in Lewes.

Around 40 protesters from the group Brighton Climate Action entered the grounds of the former St Anne's School, in Rotten Row, early yesterday morning.

The group is promising to undertake a week of training and "direct action" against companies accused of environmental damage during the week-long camp. A list of potential targets released by the group includes Gatwick airport, Hastings by-pass and the Newhaven incinerator. High street shops accused of tax avoidance are named as targets.

An exploratory oil drilling site in an area of ancient woodland on the South Downs will be targeted for sabotage, protesters said.

Workshops in protest techniques will be given by members of UKUncut, which campaigns against corporate tax avoidance, and Climate Rush, the environmental protest group.

After the camp, activists plan to occupy the building of the former special needs school permanently and establish allotments in the grounds.

Ian Ratcliffe, 24, a landscape gardener from Brighton, said the group had declared squatters' rights over the site.

He said:"The timing is perfect. Evicting us legally is going to be quite difficult as between the two bank holidays they only have three days next week to do the bureaucracy."

A Sussex Police spokesman said officers visited the site at the request of East Sussex County Council last night. Police estimate there are 30 to 40 protesters at the site. He said the camp was peaceful and no arrests were made.

A spokesman for East Sussex County Council said: "We understand that a group of protesters have moved into the former St Anne's school near to County Hall in Lewes and are currently occupying the building.

"Our property and legal staff are monitoring the situation and we are working closely with Sussex Police. We hope that this situation can be resolved without having to take legal action through the courts."