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Date: Sun, 17 Aug 1997 23:32:28 +0100
From: Reclaim The Streets
Subject: Mid-August Bumper Issue

Lyminge Forest tree protesters take to the Rank plc. boardroom

For Immediate Use - Wednesday 13th August

Operation Flowerpot - It's the Last Resort!


Today at 8.45am, around forty people started a non-violent occupation of the offices of the headquarters of the Rank Group plc at 6, Connaught Place, Marble March, London. Four of the group have blockaded themselves into the offices of Rank Chief executive Sir Denys Henderson and are refusing to leave until Rank drop their plans for construction of an "Oasis Holiday Village" in Lyminge Forest, Kent.

The plans for the "Oasis" holiday resort will mean the destruction of 460 acres of woodland. After all, they have to clear enough land for a nine hole golf course, 400 forest lodges, 350 waterside villas, an indoor waterworld, a large village centre, as well as shops and parking for over 3,500 cars and lorries. As the area is currently classed as semi-arid, the complex is estimated to require over 60,000 gallons of water per day and although the camp will create jobs, the only ones likely to be available to locals will be 'McJobs', those known to be low paid, menial and temporary.

"The leisure industry with its theme parks and holiday resorts, is potentially as destructive as car culture, urbanising the countryside and commodifying people's need for personal space. As well as being a complete rip-off, holiday villages give the impression of a natural environment and 'getting back to nature' when they have actually torn up the countryside and local wildlife to cater for consumerism and profit." said David Bramley, one of the first to occupy the Rank offices earlier.

Anna, another of the people taking part in today's occupation said earlier; "We believe that action had to be taken to save Lyminge Forest and to quote Utah Phillips "The earth is not dying, it is being killed and those that are killing it have names and addresses." This is why we have taken our protest to the offices of Rank, we want to see the faces behind the planned destruction and demand that they cancel their plans for the holiday village immediately". Ms Key also went on to say that: "This is a prime example of big business taking away what is open to the public, enclosing it and then making people pay for access; thereby ensuring enjoyment of the land is a privilege for a few rather than a right that everyone should be able to enjoy".

The forest is presently a designated area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with rare and protected wildlife including badgers and rare birds such as Nightjars and Owls. Rank's own figures state that at present 100,000 local people visit the wood every year. This is because it is one of the few open spaces left in the area.

Already there are numerous protest camps set up on the land, with many tree houses, benders and tunnels. People have been living there for months, with numbers growing all the time and the cost of evicting the camps have already caused the Forestry Commission to call off evictions; at least for the time being. This could be another victory in the making for the direct action movement.

NOTES for EDITORS The office occupiers can be reached for live telephone interviews from inside the building on:
(0966) 137925 or (0467) 388881. There will be footage and stills available from these numbers.

road protests 1997   |   road protests (current)   |   movement links