by Damien Murphy
The controversial link road between Hastings and Bexhill received a pledge of £56 million in yesterday’s Budget, to the fury of environmental campaigners.
The 5.6km (3 mile) route, which will cross Combe Haven Valley to link the A259 and B2092, was outlined in 2004 and received planning permission in 2009.
A decision on funding for the scheme has been delayed since December as the Department for Transport considered other alternatives, including a rail link.
Council leader, Peter Jones, said: “The link road is absolutely crucial to the regeneration of Hastings and Bexhill and is a once in a generation opportunity to make a step change to the most deprived local economy in the South East.”
The council claims that the road will generate 3,000 new jobs and up to 2,000 new homes, as well as a 50,000 square-metre business park.
However, campaigners believe that the road will not achieve its objective and will cause environmental degradation to sites of special scientific interest and nature conservation.
The area is believed to contain significant prehistoric archaeological reserves, and may have been a landing site for the Norman invasion of 1066.
A Friends of the Earth spokesman, Craig Bennett, told the BBC: “This will be one of the most damaging road schemes in the South East of England and will do nothing to end our transport chaos.”
The Council says it has taken measures to “minimise the impact on the environment”, and an Environmental Impact Assessment was published in April 2007.
The EIA concluded that in the long run there would be moderate benefits for local communities, but also adverse effects on land use and cultural heritage.
The council’s website claims the local community support the plan, citing a 2004 survey that showed 84 per cent of respondents in favour of a link road.
However, a poll taken by the Hastings and St. Leonard Observer in 2009 told a different story, with 62 per cent of respondents opposed to the scheme.