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From: "Jo Makepeace" (
Subject: SchNEWS 569, Friday 17th November, 2006
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2006 02:11:05 -0000



In Wales this week protesters have squatted a construction site for a monster natural gas pipeline near the village of Trebanos. All work was stopped and, at the time of writing (Thursday), the demonstrators remain and no work has taken place.

Better still they've been welcomed by the landowner whose fields the pipeline was being built through! Ira Wynne Jones says she gave the National Grid permission to build, but now feels that she was tricked into it. Ira says she was told it would be a small operation, like the mains pipe she previously had run through her land. In fact it turned out to be 4 feet in diameter, and the building operation leaves a swathe of destruction the width of a motorway.

The pipeline goes all the way from Milford Haven to Tirley in Gloucestershire - 120 miles of destruction! One section cuts through the Brecon Beacons national park. The DTI reckons that the UK currently needs gas for about 40% of its energy needs and claim that the pipeline, which will cost £700 million, is necessary to cope with increasing national demand for natural gas. But protesters argue that the money should be spent on renewables and increasing energy efficiency. The recent Stern report points out that gas distribution is the single most carbon intensive sector of the economy and accounts for a huge proportion of our emissions. Just to keep things stable we need a 90% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, but creating the infrastructure for continued fossil fuel dependency goes in exactly the opposite direction.

As well as being an ecological dead-end, the pipeline has also steamrollered over communities. The consultation process was a joke. 3 cm square adverts were placed in local newspapers. Less observant locals who missed the ads often found out only when the diggers started arriving at the bottom of their gardens. Safety concerns have been ignored. The pipeline is at mega-pressure, and a leak would be catastrophic. The area around Trebanos is prone to land-slip, and it is so unstable that villagers are not allowed to have mains gas supplied! Locals fear another industry induced disaster like the one 30 years ago at nearby Aberfan, when a landslide buried a school full of children and 144 perished.

Protesters arrived on Sunday and were put up in a tumbledown barn in a customary Welsh drizzle. At 5 am on Monday they stormed the site before workers arrived and climbed up cranes, stood on top of machinery and even went into the pipeline itself, posting Section 6 notices around the place, in order to claim squatter's rights. For the whole day the site was occupied, work was prevented and several protesters spent the night in the pipeline. Local supporters came to the barnyard camp, bringing beer, food and even a large white sofa to put next to the fire. All gratefully received!

The police initially treated the matter as a civil dispute, and claimed they were just there to ensure everyone's safety and stop any crimes being committed. Which made everyone feel very safe indeed. But then on Tuesday cops decided to threaten the landowner with a £60,000 fine and arrest unless she agreed to write a letter demanding that the protesters should leave the building site. Facing such a threat Ira agreed, but stressed that she continues to welcome protesters who want to stay at the campsite on her land. The protesters immediately sent out a press release declaring their intent to stay.


Cops then announced that they'd be evicting the building site at 8 am Wednesday morning. They didn't manage it though. Maybe they were put off by the mud, or maybe the thought of dragging protesters out of a 300 metre-long section of pipe buried in a hillside just didn't float their boat. Either way, the demonstrators are still there and more are expected to arrive on the weekend.

More people are needed immediately!

Work can only go on for a few more weeks before winter weather makes construction of the pipeline impossible. And opposition to the pipeline is emerging all along its 120 mile length.

Starting at Milford Haven, where two massive terminals will receive the gas in massive supertankers, a group called Safe Haven campaigns against the development, recently launching a legal challenge to the development. When activists heard about the camp at Trebanos, they were inspired to go and set up their own camp near Milford Haven early on Thursday morning. They've pitched a tent on a public footpath, which runs right through a half-finished section of pipeline. Because they are on public land, police have so far been powerless to act against them, and work has had to stop there too! They want more people who are up for coming and spending time at the camp, and especially people who can spend a night there, so they can have a well-deserved rest.

The Milford Haven camp contact is 07752 698489.

* For directions to the campsite near Trebanos from Cardiff check out -

* Press contact at Trebanos, and general information line is (Jan on) 07973 619183

* One local man drives back from work in Cardiff at 5pm every day and is happy to give lifts. To anyone heading up there. His number is 07973 619183.

* To keep informed about what is going on at the two camps now, keep an eye on Indymedia in coming weeks. Or better still go down there and see with your own eyes!

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