A Round-up of British Action Camps
Since the last issue of Do or Die (printed in late June 1997) 24 different campaigns have either set up camps or continued occupation of ones already established. Usually when we set up a site we expect to be evicted eventually, but we aim to cause so much economic damage that other places are saved in the future - and so far this strategy has worked very effectively in the struggle to destroy the British Roads Programme. (See'Direct Action: Six Years Down the Road' on page 1 of this issue.) However the increasing sophistication of treehouses, lock-ons, tunnels and rabid activists have made evictions so expensive that in the last 10 months we have seen five campaigns tatting down (breaking camp) because they'd actually won. With camps all over the country there is bound to be one near you - so find out where it is and then visit, if only for a weekend, and help barricade, build, fortify and generally cause trouble!
Faslane Peace Camp
Outside the Trident submarine base is the longest running action camp in the country. Set up fifteen years ago, it's still going strong with convoy blockades, base invasions and de-fencing happening regularly. After boundary changes a new local council was formed which has decided to evict the camp. Their eviction notice was served in July last year but so far it has not been executed - although it will be soon - so give the camp a phone and get on the national eviction phone tree. Better still go up there and take part in the mayhem. Tel: 01436 820901.
Victory at Pressmennan!
Landowners wanted to clear-cut a 13,000 year old oak wood and send the timber to Germany to make BMW dashboards. A vigorous campaign was set up to protect this precious remnant of the Caledonian Forest. A camp was pitched that lasted months, and the trees were filled with ceramic spikes that trash sawmill blades, dropping the value of timber. The campaign succeeded and it looks as though Pressmennan has been saved - for now at least. See 'Pressmennan's WAND' on page 18 in this issue. Tel: 01368 850360 or 0131 228 2193.
Derby city centre tree camp
At 7.00 am 21 Feb a tree camp was established in the Bass Rec park, Derby to save it from being developed. It is the last large open space in the City Centre and includes a grade one wildlife site. The City Council intend to put a road across it! Approx. 250 trees are threatened by this development.
We are climbing some of these trees to oppose the land loss of our park. This precious inner city Green Space was donated to Derby folk by Michael Thomas Bass in 1876. For further details please ring Dorothy Skrytek on: 01332 727237.
Menwith Hill Peace camp
Menwith Hill Women's Peace Camp is there to campaign against the US National Security Agency (NSA) spy base. Menwith Hill spies on telephone calls, has involvement in economic espionage and plays a large strategical part in any war. It is found 7 miles outside Harrogate on the A59 in North Yorkshire. For more information contact Menwith Women's Peace Camp, outside Menwith Hill US Spy Base, Kettlesing lay-by, A59 near Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 2RA, UK Tel: 01943 468593.
Sellafield Women's Peace Camp
Sellafield Women's Peace Camp (SWPC) has been a site of protest against the nuclear/military industry since 1990. The camp takes place the last full weekend of every second month, and is situated outside the visitor's centre at Sellafield nuclear plant, near Seascale on the west coast of Cumbria. The camp is relaxed, the food is good, and new women are always welcome. Recent SWPC actions have involved paint, cement, talking to the public, bolt-cutters, leafietting, climbing and police dogs! There used to be a mixed camp at Sellafield and SWPC would support anyone wishing to set another up. More details from: Sellafield Women's Peace Camp, Box Z, 16 Sholebroke Avenue, Leeds, LS7 3HB. Telephone: 0113 262 9365.
Bingley direct action camp
The Bingley relief road scheme was put on hold last July following a review of road schemes, but may still be given the go ahead in early April this year. The camp, which was set up on route when the scheme was first aired is still in existence. Campaigners are hoping that its presence will deter the government from proceeding with the road. Not waiting until the decision, the Department of Transport started clearing on route buildings last autumn. Contact: Bingley Anti-Road Campaign, Rye loaf Camp, Bingley BD19 2HZ. Tel: 01274 504626 or 0370 985122.
A 2.5 acre ecological oasis in the heart of Longsight, Manchester, was destroyed to build student accommodation. The camp, which was set up in early August, involved lots of locals and new people. It lasted a month before being evicted by climbers, police and bailiffs. Despite the small size of the land it took the state two days to clear it. For more details contact: 0161 224 4846.
Birmingham Northern Relief Road
The Birmingham Northern Relief Road (BNRR) is planned to stretch 27 miles, and will destroy SSSIs, woodlands and many other important ecological areas. Activists have been occupying the site for five months already. The campaign should be big and could well rival the intensity of Newbury. Construction is currently expected to start at the beginning of 1999. The site is situated in Greenwood, on the A38 between Bassets Pole and Weeford junction, next to the ARC gravel works. Get the 110 bus from Corporation St. in Birmingham city centre to Bassetts Pole then walk 1.5 miles north along the A38 to the gravel works on the left. Tel: 0797 0301987.
Alvis Peace Camp
Peace camp outside Alvis factory, campaigning against the export of tanks and tank kits to Indonesia, where they will be used for internal 'security' as well as repression of the East Timorese. How to find it: Alvis Peace Camp, outside Alvis Tank Factory, North View, Walsgrave Triangle, Coventry, CU2 2SP. Pager no.: 0336 774173.
Bury St.Edmonds Road Protest Camp
A camp was set up in December in Bury St.Edmonds, Suffolk, to try and stop an access road being built through virtually untouched watermeadows to reach Green King Brewery. Unlike most others, this campaign has not only been started by locals but is still staffed by them - local involvement, not local support is the key. Contact: The Glad Abbott, Watermeadows Defence Camp, Callum Road, Bury St. Edmonds, Suffolk, IP33. Tel: 01359 240365 or 01284 760835.
Wales and The South West
Brewery Fields Free State
Brewery Fields is an amazing place on the edge of Bangor, North Wales, with areas of woodland, open fields where orchids grow, streams and ponds where children gather tadpoles. Following the 'developers' decision to begin erecting security fences upon the common land of Eithinog and Brewery fields, local people have taken the power back from the forces of babylon and established the free state of Eithinog/Brewery Fields. The so far small, (4 benders and several tents) but strong community is open to all with peace in their hearts. The aim is resistance - to housing 'development' on this beautiful land of gorse, bramble, elder, hawthorn, wild raspberries, alder, oak, countless wildfiowers and turf. Security fences seem to have a habit of falling down in the night, much to the annoyance of the developers (North West Wales Housing Association) and to the glee of the elderly residents of the fiats that overlook the site. The campaign telephone number is: 01248 351 541 or contact Gwynedd and Mon Earth First! (See Contacts page.)
Victory at Teigngrace!
In early July 1997 camps were set up at Teigngrace in Devon, to stop the enlargement of an already massive white clay quarry. Much was at stake; precious watermeadows would have been destroyed and two beautiful free fiowing rivers would have been moved into concrete channels. In mid-October Prescott backed down to the activists' demand for a public inquiry. The camps have been tatted down and the threat to the site is (temporarily) over until the conclusion of the enquiry. (See 'Teigngrace' box in 'Quarry Fighting in the South West', page 79 for more details.) Tel: 0467 622825.
Teddy Bear Woods
Set up mainly by locals in May 1996 to stop the Weymouth Brown Route road, the Teddy Bear Woods camp does not expect eviction until January next year. Plenty of time for you to get down there and build lock-ons, barricades and generally help strengthen their resistance. Tel: 0468 221454.
Dead Woman's Bottom
Four camps were set up at Dead Woman's Bottom in Somerset to stop the construction of a quarry service road. The site was evicted at the end of January by the forces of darkness. For more details see 'Quarry Fighting in the South West' on page 79 or contact: 0174 880144.
Victory at Wymondham!
Developers and Yeovil Council were stopped in their tracks when camps were set up on Wymondham Hill, an amazing bit of greenfield land with a river snaking through it. Lying right next to the centre of town it is an ideal place for Yeovilians to find solace in the countryside. A perfect place, according to the council, to build a supermarket and access road/bypass. Campaigners took over the land and renamed it Wymondham People's Park. The combination of tunnels, treehouses and ground camps deterred the Council and developers and the scheme was cancelled in July 1997. The strange task of taking the site down was then done, with many activists and much of the tat moving straight onto other camps in the area. This is the second time attempts have been made to bulldoze Wymondham and the second time direct action has stopped it happening. For details telephone: 01935 478806.
Radstock Railway Camp
A camp was established in summer 1997 at Radstock against proposals to build a supermarket, industrial units, housing, road and rail line on a naturally regenerated piece of railway land in Radstock. Transport police and heavies have been intimidating the camp and an eviction order was served in September but so far has not been carried out. Tel: 01761 432273.
Ashton Court, Bristol
A semi-permanent camp has been set up in Ashton Court Estate by Bristol people as a focus for the protest against the expansion of Durnford Quarry into this public park near Bristol. Australian multinational Pioneer Aggregates want to destroy 20 acres of the parkland, and dig up a wildfiower meadow in their way. This they propose to replant on another field, half a mile away, which is inhabited by badgers. And the badgers who were evicted have just recently reoccupied their sett and need some support to keep in possession. The camp is in woodland adjacent to the quarry. It is a high-profile site in a public park, aimed at getting more local people into direct action. There is no vehicular access, and no alcohol on site. See page 79 in this issue for more info. Camp mobile:0467 430 211
The South East
Victory at Stringers Common!
Direct action won yet another victory against road building when a road through Stringers Common, Guildford, was cancelled due to the council not being able to afford a full-on eviction. (See Box 'Victory at Guildford!' on page 2.)
Rank Leisure wants to build a holiday village in the beautiful Lyminge Forest, Kent, complete with a leisure dome, 9 hole golf course, rubber lined artificial lake, studio apartments and parking for 3,400 cars. Since mid March 1997 camps have spanned the site bursting with tents, twigloos and tunnels. There have been eviction alerts on and off for nearly six months so get down there now. (For an in-depth article on the leisure industry and this scheme see 'Lyminge Forest: The Spread of Syphilitic Suburbia' in Do or Die No. 6, Page 72). Directions: From Canterbury take the Folkestone bus to Six Mile Garage and turn left for main West Wood car park for the camps. Tel: 01303 265737 or 0140 536592.
Victory at Offham Marshes!
A farmer in the South Downs attempted to plough up a Special Area of Scientific Interest, Offham marshes. A camp was set up and pressure built up until the environment minister ordered the farmer to back down, see "Confronting Industrial Agriculture" page 40. For more details contact: South Downs EF! PO Box 2971, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 2TT.
Since early September 1997 the first ever Animal Liberation action camp has been sited outside of Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) in Cambridgeshire. HLS is one of Britain's largest vivisection laboratories, torturing and experimenting on 62,500 animals at any single time. Actions have been happening at the site nearly every day and in December it was announced that the camps have cost HLS £3.5 million so far. Tel: 0589 026435 or 01223 311828.
Canbury Gardens tree camp
In Kingston, London, the council want to cut down 76 Poplar trees to 'enhance the view' of Canbury Park for dwellers in a posh new estate - Bingley similar logic to the argument the government uses when it says building a motorway through amazing bits of countryside would give the public access to beautiful scenery. Since early November a camp with treehouses galore has been running to defend the site. Local response has been good and one council meeting was besieged by 500 residents. Tel: 0181 287 3118 or 0181 546 1827.
Magnet 'Chicken Farm'
After Animal Libbers setting up camps, who next? Ex-Magnet Kitchen workers, that's who - and they've set up a chicken farm. The workers were sacked in Sept '96 for going on strike. They set up camp outside the 590 acre Cambridgeshire estate of the chief executive of Magnet's parent company. This forced Magnet back into negotiation. However, the inevitable happened and the deal offered to the strikers was not worth the paper it was written on. When the camp resumed the ex-workers were told they could be found guilty of secondary picketing if they continued to hassle Boss. However their lawyers advised that if their 'picket' was in fact not a picket but a business then they could not be targeted. So on the 17th of February they officially opened a chicken farm - with two free range chickens - on two acres of rented land near their ex-bosses estate. Declaring that 'the chickens have come home to roost' they've continued their occupation, gaining valuable press coverage and annoying the boss no end. As with the Liverpool Dockers, it's good to see people breaking out of their traditional and predictable modes of struggle. Drop in for a cup of tea at the only chicken farm worth visiting without boltcroppers. Tel: 01325 282389.
Despite attempts by the planners to get rid of them, the Kings Hill community in Somerset continues to show that benders can be palatial rather than squalid; winning the first DoD Brilliant Benders award.