road protests 2004
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Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 00:31:08 -0000
Subject: SchNEWS Issue 441 - Friday 13th February
Road Protest round-up - February 2004
"This is the frontline. It's not just about trees. If people want to continue anti-war protests, it doesn't take much to make the connection between this and the war for oil. This is the Anti-Roads Movement Part II. Cast your mind back to the early nineties-the first Gulf War had just ended, there was a Climate Change Summit. Now things have turned a full circle and a whole new generation are on board." Holly, protester at Blackwood Protest Camp.
This week there are three separate protest camps all on urgent eviction alert: ecological direct action camps at Blackwood near Newport, Sherwood Forest in Nottingham, and Nine Ladies in Derbyshire - all competing for limited amounts of people and resources. Are we back to the protest camp halcyon days of the nineties?
Five acres of St Davids Wood in Blackwood, south Wales, is currently under threat of being trashed for the sake of an access road to an industrial park - and would already be gone if it wasn't for some hardy protesters and a ten-year local campaign which involved two High Court battles. This camp needs urgent help to protect the site - but before you go down to the woods, you'd better leaf through the dusty pages of Hogwart's book on tree protest wizardry...
We now know that magic can happen in the woods, but things got truly surreal this week when Harry Potter weaved a spell into the story. This new development has come about because contractors Costain and the Caerphilly Borough Council have used the obscure 'Harry Potter ruling' to secure a High Court civil injunction on the entire camp. In the Harry Potter case, some of the kid wizard books went missing from the publishing company Bloomsbury and were then given to the press before publication. Because the company didn't know the specific names of the persons who had taken the books, they simply described them to the court. The court then decided for the first time that persons described, rather than actually named, could be defendants to an injunction. This means an injunction can be served against anybody - no names are needed - so therefore any person entering or remaining in a specified area (the woodland at Blackwood, in this case) can be immediately removed. Bindmans, the solicitors giving free legal advice to the camp, told SchNEWS "it's the first time the 'Harry Potter ruling' has been used against protesters."
The injunction is a useful legal tool for companies wanting to get rid of pesky protesters. In the hearing for the Blackwood case, the judge only heard evidence from the 'interested party' - the developers - leaving the defendants (the protesters) with no chance to defend themselves. It is possible to later appeal the injunction in court - but it becomes a David and Goliath battle between a cashed up company and a campaign which doesn't get legal aid.
The woodland under threat - owned by Costain and under the spell of Harry Potter - is now 'protected' from protesters, but while the trees are still under threat, the protest camp itself is on adjoining land NOT owned by Costain, making it safe from eviction for the moment.
Currently, the anti-roads campaigners are trying furiously to mix a legal potion to fight the Harry Potter ruling - throwing in such ingredients as the Section 6 status of the camp and the presence of dormice on Costain's woodland site. It's a shame that the
dormice can't get an injunction so they can live undisturbed. Work stopped on the site when dormice - were found. Legally, dormice are protected and they must be "re-located" (evicted) if the chopping of the trees is to continue- but work has continued, around their habitat. The presence of dormice has meant that a wildlife group is taking Costain to court and maybe even criminal proceedings will occur, but don't hold your breath as courts tend to be more chummy with the likes of Costain than dormice lovers.
We asked one protester on site, Holly, if the protest camp was mostly Twyford Down or Newbury veterans like herself? She told SchNEWS that while there is unbelievable local support, there is also a whole new generation of protesters present. This is the generation who took the anti-war protests by storm last year, so watch out cos hopefully there's plenty more where they came from.
People and climbing equipment are needed at the camp now.
To contact the camp phone 07952 774525 or 07708 420446
For a map and details visit http://www.schnews.org.uk/pap/protestcamps.htm
CAMP IT UP
Sherwood Forest Protest Camp is also in urgent need of help. Bailiffs have been on site recently and eviction seems imminent. "Security" forces had planned an illegal eviction but were thwarted when extra people and the cops turned up.
Bellway, the property developers, want to turn these magnificent woods into sawdust and build almost 300 poor-quality overpriced houses there instead.
A 300-year old beech tree is at the heart of the forest and serves as the HQ of the Protest Camp. Massive local support has been apparent since the camp was established 6 months ago. Meanwhile, 60-odd security, an ambulance (!) and cutting machinery have been hovering near the area, waiting to go in for the kill.
Support is vital over the next couple of days.
Tel - 07050 656410
If you can't get down to the woods, you might want to phone Bellway on 0116 2727000 to tell them what you think, POLITELY of course!!
The Nine Ladies anti-quarry camp is still expecting to be evicted any day now. More people and climbing equipment needed. Contact 07005942212 for details.
A camp has been set up to stop the construction of a privately financed road at Bilston, 8 miles south of Edinburgh. Construction work has started on the road, but at the moment the camp remains untouched. The camp now has a kitchen/cafe and infoshop and welcomes visitors. Tel 07986 632429 - http://www.bilstonglen-abs.org.uk
A housing development of 2,500 homes is planned on a Greenfield site in East Grinstead, West Sussex for 2006. If the plan gets the go ahead, the council must build a by-pass around the town which will destroy an Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty and maybe even encroach on Ashdown Forest. firstname.lastname@example.org
Next Tuesday sees the opening of a public inquiry into proposals to construct a new four-lane road through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. Campaigners warn that the public inquiry may simply "rubber stamp" the road. http://www.savestonehenge.org.uk
The Scottish Executive plans to build a 6-lane elevated motorway through the southern suburbs of Glasgow. The M74 Northern Extension, as it would called, would be raised on 40 feet concrete stilts for parts of its journey and at £375-500 million, it will be the most expensive transport project in Scotland. http://uk.geocities.com/jam74_uk
road protests 2004
| road protests (current)
| movement links