Protesters warn against new road plans: Critics say Chancellor's £18bn scheme will harm environment and do nothing to ease congestion

 

Hundreds of protesters walked the length of a controversial planned road route through the Sussex countryside yesterday on a national rally against the Government's £18bn road-building plans.

Ministers are expected to release details this week of road reforms that, campaigners say, will lead to more than 250 roads being tarmacked through some of the UK's best-loved landscapes.

The Government Green Paper, expected to be announced before MPs break for their summer recess on Thursday, will flesh out proposals in last month's spending review to invest £10bn in road repairs and £18bn in new roads by 2021.

Yesterday, protesters walked the proposed route of the contentious £100m Bexhill-to-Hastings Link Road, which will pass through Combe Haven valley in East Sussex, a site of special scientific interest for its rich birdlife and vast reed bed.

Campaigners argued that George Osborne's stimulus package has resurrected plans for hundreds of "zombie roads", dropped, in some cases, decades ago as unfeasible.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the rally's organisers, the Campaign for Better Transport, said: "These roads have been talked about and studied to death for years. The reason nothing has happened is that they are difficult, expensive and environmentally damaging. If the Government has another round of feasibility studies, it will simply bring back roads that refuse to die."

Sian Berry, from the Roads to Nowhere Campaign, said: "This is about trying to make sure local groups fighting roads can talk to each other, get together and learn from successes and mistakes."

Ms Berry said the Bexhill-to-Hastings Link Road was the worst of all the proposed new roads, adding: "The Combe Haven valley is an amazing historical landscape. It is emblematic of the problems different roads can cause – but it is all going on here. There is everything wrong with this road."

The Chancellor's spending review pledged to build all available Highways Agency road projects and to add at least an additional 221 lane miles on the busiest motorways to relieve congestion.

Among the plans up for review are extra lanes through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site as well as motorways through the Peak District, Norfolk Broads and South Downs.

Mr Joseph said: "We are expecting a lot more anger once the plans become clear. The idea that you can solve congestion by building more and bigger roads is doomed to futility."

Greenpeace, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and the Campaign to Protect Rural England all supported yesterday's rally.

The Department for Transport last night defended the £57m it has pledged towards the Bexhill-to-Hastings Link Road as crucial for opening up 52,000 square miles of land for housing and new jobs.

A ministry spokesman said: "This scheme will kick-start economic regeneration in a deprived area of the South-east and tackle problems of accessibility between the towns of Bexhill and Hastings."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Accountant - London - £48,000 - 12 month FTC

£40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: International Acc...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power