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From: "SchNEWS"
To: "SchNEWS Subscribers"
Date: Thu, 29 Jan 1998 14:48:17 +0000
Subject: SchNEWS 151, Friday 23rd January 1998


"This area of the East Mendips is the centre of Somerset's major quarrying industry. Virtually one-fifth of the national requirements are met from Somerset."
- Somerset County Council

As SchNEWS went to press, a game of cat and mouse between protesters, bailiffs and the police is taking place at Dead Woman's Bottom near Nunney, Frome.

The five protest camps are being illegally evicted by the Under Sheriff of Somerset and his merry men who moved in early Tuesday morning. The protesters are trying to stop the proposed Bull's Green Link Road being built. Although there are only 30 to 40 people on site they are proving impossible to evict effectively.

The authorities are having real problems evicting because some of the camps are on private land, and local landowners who are opposed to the road are refusing to support the powers that be. One told SchNEWS: "There are vans and vans and vans of riot cops but the Section 69 (a formal warning from a senior cop to leave the land) that they're handing out is basically a get-out-of-jail-free card".

Despite the fact that there were children on site, no prior warning was given of the eviction. One woman was dragged off and her kids were left alone screaming, while a doctor was assaulted by bailiffs on his own land.

As fast as the bolts for the perimeter fence are set in concrete, they are being mysteriously ripped out by invisible pixies... "This protest will last for months. We are conducting a guerrilla warfare from the woods"

Everybody's favourite environmentalists Tarmac are paying for approximately two-thirds of the £3.2M road-scheme - the rest is to be met from the tax-payer. If built, it will give Tarmac easier access to the Halecombe quarry, as well as enable them to trash previously inaccessible areas of the Mendips. The road will cut through Asham Wood, one of the last two ancient woodlands left in the area and home to the endangered Greater Horseshoe bat and Fresh Water Cray fish (no, the fish aren't up a tree, they're in a stream clever-clogs). But don't worry, according to the County Council's Structure Plan this part of the Mendips is a Designated Special Landscape Area! Ironically, while the Council are arguing that the road needs to be built to divert heavy lorries away from five villages, 30% of Halecombe Quarries output is for asphalt for roads and road maintenance.

The Mendips have been the scene of the longest running ecological direct action in the country. The mining causes massive destruction to the environment, lowering and polluting the water table and producing material for large construction projects. As one activist told SchNEWS: "It is ridiculous that the Mendips are supplying stone to the whole country. Mining should be small-scale and supplied on a regional basis"

Whatley Quarry, owned by Hanson PLC, is another site that is destroying the Mendips. It is currently looking to double in size, creating a gaping hole that will be visible from the Moon. In December '95 Earth First! staged a mass trespass, with 500 activists trashing the site and closing the quarry for a week. A court case of the 3 people charged with criminal damage to the railway line into Whatley is now a year old, with the prosecution dragging their feet in a clear attempt to break the spirit of those involved. A Show Trial is expected in March. This campaign is going to last for a while, so get down there NOW!

* DEAD WOMAN'S BOTTOM: 01749 880 144

road protests 1998   |   road protests (current)   |   movement links