Update! A week of direct action against Bexhill link road.
“We were caught out and a lot of damage has been done – but people have been amazing and now we've have a set of established tree defences and work has stopped for the day at least. We really need support and all the usual wish-list stuff, tools, tarps, ropes etc. So come and give us a Christmas visit” - Combe Haven Defender
Maps of the planned road (scroll down!) - the camp is at Adams Farm
Anti-road protestors in Bexhill were ambushed by an early start to the tree felling on the controversial Bexhill-Hastings link road this week, but they rallied and a week of constant direct action has put a spanner in the works, with no work reported today (Saturday 22nd). Work wasn't expected to begin until early January but as soon as East Sussex County Council acquired the land (by compulsory purchase) the chainsaw gangs were set to work.
From the newswire: Hastings/|Bexhill anti-road camp needs you! | Help Needed Immediately | Anti-road campaigners high in trees at Bexhill and are prepared to stay | Brighton: Emergency meeting | Second Battle of Hastings: Day One... Protestors 10, Road builders 0 | Protestors Take To Trees To Stop Chainsaws
On Thursday evening information was received that tree felling in Combe Valley was to begin on the route of the Bexhill-Hasting link road early Friday morning. As contractors with machinery moved into woodland near Adams Farm, south of Crowhurst early on Friday morning they were greeted by tree bound activists and locals who had been occupying the area since dawn. Contractors and security soon realized there would be no felling, with a early lunch called shortly after activists got in the way of brush cutters attempting to clear access to trees.
Saturday saw a large number of trees felled in a the disused railway cutting in the suburbs of Bexhill before activists (reinforced by a landy full of stray hunt sabs) climbed over the bridge and forced contractors to stop cutting. The protesters refused to leave after warnings from High Court bailiffs and followed the contractors to their next target a stand of trees to the east, which was already being occupied by a couple of enterprising locals who'd shinned up one tree with a ladder. Flummoxed,the chainsaw boys put their toys backin the van and called it a day.
With trees already falling, people once again gathered on Sunday in Bexhill and in Crowhurst at Adams Farm. Work was stopped in Bexhill with people once again entering the site. But contractors were able to fell a large area of trees before they packed up and left for their compound. Contractors attempted to continue their reign of destruction, showing up at Adams Farm once again. This time activists were in waiting with one man quickly locking on under a pick-up truck with two pairs of hand cuffs, blocking the site's only access point and causing the other vehicles to reverse away in fear of the same fate.
On Sunday forty people turned up to public meeting in the hamlet of Crowhurst about the plan for the bypass. One potential ray of light was the announcement of a new legal challenge by BLINKRR (Bexhill Link Road Resistance) . who claim that the new road is on the actual site of the Battle of Hastings and are aiming to get the whole area re-classifed as a World Heritage Site.
On Monday 17th, resistance continued along the route today with four arrests being made as bailiffs dragged local protesters out of the trees. Action to stop the felling of trees along the route of the proposed Bexhill-Hastings by-pass continued; with locals and activists on the ground preventing work. Tuesday saw locals occupy the disused railway track in Bexhill where treecutting was taking place, work was halted and security guards moved in pushing and shoving, with reports of the private security firm Sher Group dragging people from trees.
On Wednesday trees in the valleycontinued to be felled with activists blocking felling where possible. Rising early on Thursday two defenders were able to take position in a tree overhanging the proposed route of the road, well supplied they set up cover and ropes, greeting surprised chainsaw gangs as they arrived in the area ready for work. Support from locals and activists from across the country is rising, however more people are needed everyday if the road, first of the governments resurrected road building program is to be halted. If you can, travel down for a day or more, accommodation, support and gear is available. Contact Combe Haven Defenders for updates from the ground
The good news is that although the tree-felling has started at the moment the council don't have the money and still have to jump through a few environmental regulation hoops – so the road could still be stopped.
SchNEWS spoke to Combe Haven Defenders “We've been heartened by the reaction of local people – who've come out to resist the chainsaw gangs. We see this as not just a local issue but a national strategic one. We want people to come down and action”
To get up-to-date information of what is happening on the ground and where you might be needed visit the Combe Haven Defenders website http://combehavendefenders.wordpress.com/
To get regular e-mail/text updates http://combehavendefenders.wordpress.com/pledge/