The 5 bailiffs found themselves outnumbered 4 or 5 to 1, so it was easy for people to obstruct work. There were two different locations in which Costain were trying to work, and by lunchtime they had completely given up for the day. They simply didn't have enough bailiffs to cover both locations.
They also set up a third camp further along the track - although there were arguments over its name. Personally, I think 'Swamp Camp' works well ;)
The planned route of the road runs straight through St David's Wood, a beautiful area of ancient woodland which is home to various dormice, bats, buzzards etc.
The road is presented by the planners as either a bypass, or an access road for Oakdale Business Park, depending on which suits their PR best at the time. It is being built as a PFI project by Costain - the same company who built the Newbury bypass.
Notably, one of the companies due to be based at Oakdale Business Park is Norham - an MoD contractor which produces (I think) communications systems for the army.
Locals are being led to believe that this project will help provide jobs at Oakdale Business Park, but any jobs are unlikely to be 'new' jobs - it's the usual capitalist game of playing one area off against another - our small gain will be someone else's loss, while the bosses and bureacrats walk off with fat bonuses.
But, even putting that aside, and using the generous estimate of 1000 jobs at Oakdale Business Park, then the cost of the new road - at least 54 million - is enough to pay those 1000 people 18000 per year for three years to do nothing!
This isn't necessarily a serious suggestion, but it illustrates the huge cost of this road. The point is their are loads of more socially useful ways this money could be spent locally.
Despite all the PR manipulation, public opinion is quite split.
Even those who support the road express regrets about the woodland and are not hostile to protesters. Some say that the construction of the road is inevitable, and trying to stop it pointless.
On the other hand, there is also a lot of opposition; the camps have had fantastic support, and many of those actively obstructing work on a day-to-day basis are locals skipping school or college:
"...with your help we can stop this happening as we schoolkids can't dodge school forever! if three 15 year olds and one 13 year old has enough guts to take on a few chunky bailiffs sure others can because WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW!..."
taken from: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2004/02/286076.html
The situation now
Three protest camps (Kerry, Jordan and Swamp Camp aka Camp 3) have now been set up alongside the route, each protecting a patch of surrounding woodland by the use of squatting laws.
Eviction proceedings are still going through the courts - the campers have managed to lodge several appeals. This means that, until Wednesday (the next court date) at least, any eviction would be illegal. Early Wednesday would be a good time to get down here.
A huge amount of woodland has already been lost, including trees that were hundreds of years old. Not much has survived outside the camps.
Numbers of people onsite varies hugely. On the days when our numbers are low, the chainsaw gangs cut more trees down and push closer and closer.
Report of today's events here:
What can I do?
1. If you can, please come and spend some time in the camps and/or help block work.
There are loads of useful roles - come and make your contribution. In Blackwood, a handful of people can make a huge difference.
Blackwood is in the south wales valleys north of Newport and Cardiff:
Buses run from both Cardiff and Newport, both of which have train and coach stations. Newport is nearer.
When you reach Blackwood, ask for directions to the Rock and Fountain pub, then head up the hill away from Blackwood. When the road curves right, turn left instead down a little residential street. You'll see the disused railway track. Cross over onto the track and keep walking in that direction. The camps are on the bank above you - first Kerry, then Jordan, then finally Swamp Camp at the far end.
2. If you can't get here, take a look at the various contacts and addresses of companies involved, and use your imagination:
3. Or send us letters of support, chocolate, useful tat etc:
St David's Wood Protest Camp
Love and solidarity,
the zapatistas of the South Wales rainforest :)