Tree-top Link Road protestors acquitted of all charges

March 12, 2014 by combehavendefenders

Five of the six trial 4 defendants outside Brighton Magistrates Court, 12 March 2014

Five of the six trial 4 defendants outside Brighton Magistrates Court, 12 March 2014

Press release
Combe Haven Defenders [1]
Wednesday 12 March


Six anti-road protestors who were arrested in January 2013 after occupying trees along the route of the controversial Bexhill-Hastings Link Road (BHLR) have today been acquitted of all charges following a thirteen-day trial originally scheduled to last five days.

The six – all of whom were charged with aggravated trespass following tree occupations on the route of the BHLR – first went on trial in Hastings last September [2].  However the trial, originally scheduled to last five days, ended up taking thirteen, running on dates in October, December and January, and finally finishing today in Brighton.  Further acquittals are possible next week when the verdict will be given for the last remaining case, involving five more defendants [3].

The campaign against the BHLR – the ‘first and the worst’ of over 200 new road-building projects that the Chancellor, Big Business and local councils are currently pushing throughout England and Wales [4] – attracted national media attention last year, after campaigners occupied trees and tunnels in Combe Haven valley to protest against the project.

In March 2012 the project was given £56m of Department for Transport (DfT) despite being judged ‘low/medium’ value for money. DfT guidelines state that only ‘high’ or ‘very high’ value for money transport projects should be funded [5].

One of the acquitted defendants, Tom Druitt from Brighton, said, “£113m of public money is being wasted on the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road, a road which will increase traffic, increase carbon emissions, and destroy the beautiful Combe Haven valley.  Spending tens of thousands of pounds unsuccessfully prosecuting us for peacefully opposing this road has simply wasted more public money.”

[3] 10am, Tuesday 18 March, Brighton Magistrates Court
[4] See for an online map of the proposals. For background see the Campaign for Better Transport’s October 2012 briefing ‘Going backwards: the new roads programme’: The latter lists 191 projects (more have come to light since then), conservatively costed at £30bn, including 76 bypasses, 56 widened roads, 48 link roads and 9 bridges and tunnels. It also notes that ‘Many of the roads would affect areas protected for conservation, landscape and heritage reasons incl[uding] three National Parks, the National Wetland of the Norfolk Broads and at least seven Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).
[5] Subsequent cost increases have actually pushed the BHLR into the ‘low’ value for money category. See

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