ACTION UPDATE

OXFORD CYCLE ACTION 2

For the second time, protestors picked the Magdalen roundabout to cycle round and round, to highlight Oxford’s traffic problems. After 10 minutes, the police arrived, by the van load, and dispersed the 20-30 cyclists. So, an hour later, they returned, this time bringing chaos to the streets of Oxford for 20 minutes before resorting to ye ole leaf letting.

Oxford Council have just published a city traffic policy, which doesn’t go far enough. In short, it’s crap. Oxford EF!/Green Action wanted to propose positive alternatives, showing how destructive the dominant car culture is, and get cars out of the city centre.

 

ICI ACTION RUNCORN

On the evening of 25th February, over 200 people gathered in Liverpool from all round the country, for the following day’s fun and frolics, completely ignoring late licensing laws and cheap pub prices!

Despite having a court injunction placed on three Merseyside EF!ers, this did not deter the rest from defying the injunction, and going ahead as planned. Not, however, before a heated evening’s discussion about the value of a printed piece of paper.

Morning, outside the five mile site, brought a fat BMW, containing two frustrated paper-shufflers. They managed to serve one injunction on a protestor, who promptly burnt it, grinning.

As the day went on, all entrances to the site were eventually blocked, a few entered the site and hung banners before being ejected, and the police stood around. They were not fooled, however, by anybody dressed up in ICI uniforms, nor impressed by the small army of white radiation suit clad EF!ers. Food was provided,. and a fun day was had by all.

Talking to the workers proved to be one of the most positive things of the action. Many proved to be sympathetic. Others, especially self-employed drivers, felt the effects of the action possibly more sharply than ICI management.

There were no real problems from ICI. Rumour has it-that the action may have cost ICI dearly as certain timed deliveries were disrupted. Press coverage was dismal - all the journalists were covering the IRA bomb at nearby Warrington. But then, it’s only half the story.

This action shows that the EF! movement can be effective - even against one of the biggest companies in the country. A corporate body which cannot even serve the injunction papers on the correct people, instead serving one set on someone entirely unaware of the whole thing!

THE FIGHT FOR THE MENDIPS.

Demonstrations so far have centred around arch rapists of the countryside, ARC, and their plans to double the size of one already massive quarry. They are highly automated and describe themselves as the most environmentally conscious quarry company.

Stop laughing, this is serious! They give money for environmental competitions in local schools, whilst permanently disfiguring nature to supply the motorway industry (guilty conscience maybe?).

Their extension application is shortly to be ‘assessed’ by Michael Howard, secretary of state for the environment. ARC are a subsidiary of Hanson PLC. Kenneth Baker, who is now on their board of directors, recently made a promotional visit to the quarry and sat at the controls of an earth killing machine.

The government’s road - building plans have created the need for mountains of roadstone. This will be obtained from places such as Scotland, Cornwall and the Mendip Hills in Somerset, where they extract limestone and produce concrete.

One third of the Mendips is under threat-from various companies. They hold ‘Interim Development Orders’ (mineral rights), which were issued in the 40s when quarrying was less automated and on a much smaller scale.

Since April 92, another 2,020 acres of quarry in the Mendips (plus 580 in the Quantocks) have been applied for. Of 34 applications only 3 are expected to be refused by the district council. The direct-action campaign has so far been centred on the application by ARC to double the size of the quarry at Whatley near Frome.

Since June 92 there have been 4 actions including gate and office blockades, halting machinery and stopping blasting. On Sunday 14th February, 45 activists gathered under a sacred hill in Summersette, set up camp, broke bread together and consumed 5 gallons of farmhouse cider. The evening was steeped in music and revelry around the camp fire.

The next morning, after tea and porridge, a convoy set off for the quarry. After stashing the vehicles, we arrived at the gates to be greeted by the press and 2 TV camera crews. Activists quickly seized control of the entrances as others quietly slipped into the back of the quarry with the intention of stopping the destruction at the quarry face. A massive monster Mendip munching machine, dubbed the ARCasaurus, and 2 huge dumpers were confronted and defeated by a dozen determined defenders of d'Erf.

Meanwhile, back at the gates... Protestors succeeded in trapping a large number of lorries inside the quarry and a tailback of up to 100 built up outside.

The blockade at the bottom gate was broken after 2 hours by irate lorry drivers, whereupon demonstrators proceeded to reinforce the top gate as others advanced in to the depths of ARC’s apocalyptic wasteland of progress.

The police arrived at the top entrance as the workers pulled out their bolt-croppers and severed the lock that had successfully secured the gate for 3 hours. A spirited effort of resistance was overwhelmed by police as workers managed to weld the gate open.

Almost immediately, van loads of police started to sweep the quarry floor, offering a lift back to the gate or be arrested. Some who accepted the offer were not released!

Three ambitious ramblers vainly seeking a vantage point to view the surrounding Mendip hills, positioned themselves atop the gargantuan gobbling grappling arm of the ARCasaurus. Within half an hour of the police laying siege, they were removed by force resulting in a broken thumb and some interesting new facial massage techniques.

By 2pm, 29 had been arrested for breach of the peace, and one for criminal damage. One was later released and dumped in Frome when found to be a juvenile. The other 28 were held in police custody for around 27 hours until they were all unconditionally released by the magistrates after refusing to be bound over. The police will now be sued for malicious arrest, unlawful imprisonment... Contact SSEF! if you were arrested.

THE VALLEY OF THE ASPE.

The valley of the Aspe in the Pyrenees is one of the last areas of wilderness in Europe, an enclave supporting many rare species such as the lynx, marmot, desman, griffon vulture and golden eagle. It is also the last remaining habitat in France of the brown bear.

While in Britain, the bear became extinct in the 10th century, Europe’s largest mammal has held on here in the primary forests and mountains despite the advent of the 20th century. That the brown bear is a creature of the wilderness may now be it’s undoing, as the EC prepares to drive it into extinction by building a motorway through it’s habitat.

The “straightening and widening” of the currently little-used RN134, and the construction of an 3.5 km tunnel under the Col du Somport on the Spanish border to create a fourth trans-Pyrenean crossing - as planned by the EC - would inevitably mean the extinction of the brown bear in France.

The case is interesting in that work has currently been stopped on the road and tunnel. On 2nd Dec. 1992 the French court in Pau declared the works illegal under EC and French law. No environmental impact assessment had been carried out for the whole project, in contravention of EC directive 85/337. Twyford Down is illegal under exactly the same European law.

An environmental assessment study is currently being prepared. The EC must not be allowed to approve this study and merely recommence works. If works do restart, direct action campaigns in the valley will inevitably also reappear.

Last year a summer protest camp of people from France, Belgium, Germany and Britain was set up, with actions and protests happening every day.

There are various things people in this country can do. Activists are always welcome at La Goutte d'Eau - the action house in the valley (Eric Pététin, La Goutte d’Eau, Cette Eygun, F-64490, FRANCE. Tel. 010 33 59 34 78 83). Letter writing to Ioannis Paleokrassas (EC Environment Commissioner) and Abel Matutes (EC Transport Commissioner) doesn’t do any harm (Rue de la Loi 200, 8-1049 Brussels, Belgium. Fax 010 32 22 35 95 83).

For further information generally on the campaign, or for up to date info on the situation in the valley contact ASPE Campaign, Box E, 111, Magdalen Road, Oxford. OX4 1RQ. We now also have a video outlining the issues raised in the Valley of the Aspe, Available from the above address (unfortunately we are broke and have to charge £5.00).

NORWEGIAN WHALING SHIP SUNK

During the Earth Summit Conference in Rio De Janeiro, the Norwegian media and the Norwegian delegation was bluntly informed that unless Norway complied with international law, their whaling ships would be sunk.

The reply was, “We invite everyone to start whaling on July 4th. Then you will eat whale meat until you puke.”!

The ultimatum was issued by Sea Shepherd, an organisation dedicated to upholding the international law under which whaling is illegal. If the whalers thought this was an empty threat, they got a big surprise on boxing day! The following is extracted from the US EF! journal:

‘I first check the sea intake valve. It is open!.... How sloppy of captain Olavsen! I shut the sea cock. Then I begin taking apart the pipes. One of my wrenches does not fit. Dammit! I... find their tool locker. I’ll use their tools to sink their boat. I get the pipes off without difficulty. Then, before I before I open the sea cock to let sea water flow into the ship, I take the handle off the valve... Then, while lying on my stomach, I reach down with my pipe wrench and open the sea cock. I watch an explosion of cold water burst out from below me. “Thar she blows, sea shepherd style!” I shout to myself. I taste the water. Salt. Clear, cold, cleansing Arctic seawater to sink the Nybrena ... I take the pipe wrench and bash the valve stem a few times (to lock it open].

I grab my pry bar and start bashing gauges. With my bolt cutters I begin cutting things. Anything. This is fun!... I gather up my tools and leave the engine room. I close it and put my own lock on the door. My ship."

This was not an anti-Norwegian action, it was an anti-whaling action. Indeed, it couldn’t have been carried out without Norwegian help. Sea Shepherd send this message to any country or group of environmental thugs planning on resuming whaling: “If you resume whaling, we fully intend to sink your ships. We want your insurance companies, governments and tourist offices to know this. Remember this, if we can scuttle the Nybrena in the Arctic circle, in the middle of Winter.... on a guarded peninsula during a storm, we can sink any whaling ship.

The only good whaling ship is a sunk whaling ship. We of the Sea Shepherd declare war on all whalers.

Sea Shepherd, PC Box 5, Ashford. Middlesex. TW15 2PY.

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