Road Protest Bid Fails
Campaigners have failed in their appeal for a judicial review into the Government's decision to provide funding for a link road aimed at regenerating two deprived seaside towns.
At the High Court in London today, judges rejected the bid by opponents who have been trying to derail plans for the Hastings to Bexhill link road in East Sussex.
Chancellor George Osborne announced in his Budget in March that the Government would contribute £56 million towards the overall £93 million cost of constructing the 3.4-mile road.
Opponents from the Hastings Alliance said it will destroy the unspoilt Combe Haven Valley and represent a poor use of public funds.
After the High Court ruling, Nick Bingham, chairman of the Hastings Alliance, said: "We remain convinced that this costly, unsustainable and damaging scheme, to be funded by taxpayers, is not the answer to the problems in Bexhill and Hastings, and that alternatives have not been fully and properly examined.
"Put simply, this road scheme will be a needless blot on the landscape of a beautiful county.''
He added: "We will now consider our position and examine very carefully further options.
"The West Coast main line story reminds us Government doesn't necessarily make good financial decisions on transport.''
It is claimed that building a road so close to a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) would damage ancient woodland housing protected species including dormouse and bittern.
But supporters of the road, including East Sussex County Council and local business leaders, say it is vital to the regeneration of the most deprived economy in the South East.
Council leader Peter Jones has said it will enable the building of up to 2,000 new homes, business park space of 50,000 square metres and create more than 3,000 new jobs, as well as bring economic benefits worth #1 billion.
It is also claimed that the road, which will link the outskirts of Bexhill and Hastings, will ease congestion and improve air quality on the busy A259 at Glyne Gap.
The authority has said the scheme has the backing of local people, with a consultation in 2004 finding that out of more than 2,550 responses, only 419 (16%) objected.
Last month the Government confirmed compulsory purchase orders following a public inquiry to enable the county council to acquire land for the road and new environmental habitats.
Derrick Coffee, of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: "We are very sorry about today's decision and we are considering what, if anything, to do next.
"We don't regret for a minute the time that we have spent fighting this issue to protect such a beautiful place because we think the link road is a fundamentally flawed scheme.''