- Road fight is back on
- Battle of Hastings
- Rising Up in Bristol
- French resistance to concrete future
- The end of endless growth
- Rewilding journalism
The fight to save a treasured piece of Sussex countryside is back on – 12 years after a protest camp halted road plans.
Campaigners from groups such as South Coast Against Roadbuilding are calling for support in the fight to save Arundel’s beautiful watermeadows and nearby Binsted Woods and Tortington Common.
With £270 million being made available for a scheme by central government, a nightmare scenario is on the cards, in which a new dual carriageway bypass of the existing Arundel bypass would be built on hideous concrete stilts across the River Arun south of the town.
Details are unlikely to be confirmed until after the General Election, but opponents fear one of the two possible “offline” routes, bypassing the current bypass, could well be chosen. More info can be found here or here.
Both these routes include the viaduct and would ruin the wetlands and surrounding area. As Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee point out: “Option A damages Tortington Common’s ancient woodland; Option B wrecks Binsted’s countryside.”
Behind the revived plans for an Arundel bypass-bypass are the usual business interests and their political placemen in government.
An “A27 Action campaign”, led by West Sussex County Council, has been set up to blow the road-building trumpet.
It barely conceals the truth that private profit is its major motivation, declaring on the home page of its website that the existing non-motorway A27 “is congested route which is inhibiting business investment and growth”.
Residents have been deluged with constant propaganda (officially termed a “publicity campaign”) via compliant local media to try and persuade them that they want to sacrifice their local countryside on the altar of economic growth.
But this has been unable to disguise the fact that there has always been major local opposition to the proposals from local people whose vision of life extends further than a company balance sheet.
The last battle against the A27 at Arundel culminated with a tree protest camp being set up in the woods on the proposed route of the road – see this report in the Indymedia archives.
And it ended in a spectacular and unexpected victory. In the summer of 2003 it was looking as if the road would be given the go-ahead. Local Tory MP Howard Flight had even sent out a statement to local press welcoming “the Government announcement to proceed with a bypass for Arundel”.
But then, at the last minute, the Government dropped its support for the environmentally destructive scheme. Said one local campaigning newsletter at the time: “Those brave few who took to the woods at Arundel for the sake of the watermeadows and the woodlands deserve the thanks of all of us who value Sussex and want it to remain something other than a vast grey desert of ring roads, superstores and ugly commuter housing estates.”
There had been a flurry of media interest in the Arundel protest camp at Tortington Common, with reports everywhere from BBC TV and Meridian to the Evening Argus, The Times and The Guardian.
And a hint as to the reasons why the Government backed down in West Sussex, while ploughing ahead with road plans elsewhere in the country, came in a report on the Evening Standard website.
Written before the announcement, and seemingly expecting the Arundel road to be given the green light, it added: “The Government will be desperate to avoid clashes with committed activists such as ‘Swampy’ – so-called ‘king of the eco-warriors’. It is still nervous of provoking the kind of confrontations that created ugly scenes at Twyford Down and the Newbury bypass in the late nineties.”
Maybe it is time for the authorities to start feeling nervous again?
The battle continues against the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road in East Sussex.
A few hardy campaigners braved the sub-zero temperatures and the snow last weekend to camp out in Hollington Valley, site of the proposed Queensway Gateway road.
The valley has a rich variety of habitats, including meadowland, ancient woodland, and carr (woody vegetation on the margin of a bog) – all of which would be trashed by the road.
Asks the Coombe Haven Defenders website: “How many more of our green spaces are going to be destroyed before those making the decisions realise how utterly short-sighted and destructive is their roadbuilding mania?”
Eco-activists in Bristol have been camping in trees which are due to be felled to make way for part of the city’s controversial MetroBus scheme.
The Bristol Post reports that people with Rising Up, a campaign group, have been in the trees and occupying the ground between the M32 and the Feed Bristol project at Stapleton Allotments.
The planned road for the MetroBus North Fringe and Hengrove link route will destroy a conservation area containing wildlife habitat and prime agricultural land. There would also be an inevitable impact on Feed Bristol – an Avon Wildlife Trust community food growing project – that is situated there.
Rising Up spokeswoman Belinda Faulkes said: “We think the development plans and actions taken by the council have been a travesty. This piece of land should not even be an option for any development. We do not buy the planners’ reasons for building here – the reasons are economic.”
For latest info check http://www.alternativebristol.com
Over in France, the spirit of the UK anti-roads movement has expanded into a full-on resistance movement against capitalism and its infrastructure.
The original ZAD (Zone À Défendre) against a proposed airport at Nantes has been followed by dozens of other protest camps across the country, opposing everything from dams and railway lines to holiday parks and golf courses.
In October 2104 a young student, Rémi Fraisse, was murdered by gendarmes while protesting against a proposed dam at Le Testet, near Albi in the south of France, sparking angry protests all over the country.
This is being followed up on February 21 by two big protests “against the concreting of our countryside and the militarisation of our towns” in Nantes and Toulouse.
In France, there is a significant “décroissance” (degrowth) movement ranging from well-known environmentalists like writer Pierre Rabhi or MEP José Bové to radical groups determined to fight the destructive domination of the capitalist system.
The Invisible Committee (le comité invisible), an influential writing collective, has recently described localised battles against infrastructure as the front line in the global struggle against capitalism. Interest in their ideas is already spreading to the UK – they are giving a talk at the Cowley Club in Brighton on Saturday March 21.
In a well-researched two-part online article, author Nafeez Ahmed explores the idea that “the economic crisis is symptomatic of a deeper crisis of industrial civilization’s relationship with nature”.
He looks at the groundbreaking work of University of Turin economist Mauro Bonaiuti, who uses the term “degrowth” to describe a new science of post-growth economics: “This perspective recognizes that endless growth on a finite planet is simply biophysically impossible, literally a violation of one of the most elementary laws of physics: conservation of energy, and, relatedly, entropy.”
Adds Ahmed: “This year we could discover that the very disruption of capitalism itself is part of a major tipping point in the transition to a new post-industrial, post-capitalist paradigm.”
A call for a new kind of journalism has been launched by campaign website Media Lens.
They write: “It seems to us that the public is sick to the back teeth of corporate media pretending to supply the truth and nothing but, while miraculously satisfying the fanatical demands of media moguls, corporate advertisers, parent companies, supportive state news sources and other business allies. What a pitiful lie this is!
“Many readers are aware, on some level, that the profit motive distorts and cheapens every last thing offered by a ‘mainstream’ media system that in fact represents the extreme viewpoint of 0.1% of the population.
“Imagine if George Monbiot, John Pilger, Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, David Peterson, Jonathan Cook, Mark Curtis, Glenn Greenwald, Nafeez Ahmed, Robert Fisk, Naomi Klein, Russell Brand, Michael Moore, Julian Assange, Chris Hedges, Sharon Beder, Seumas Milne and others rejected the media moguls, billionaires, parent companies and advertisers, and offered their work completely free of charge from a single media outlet. Would the global public be willing to support such a group, such a cause, through donations? The answer, we think, is blindingly obvious.”
A glimpse into the future being lined up for us by the industrial prison-system – a new Swedish office block is implanting workers with RFID microchips under the skin of their hands. They can use them to open doors or use the photocopier and could soon be used to pay for food at the canteen or to access computers. They are also capable of communicating with smartphone apps.
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Southwark Council backed by police smashed up 8 empty council homes next to a political squat. Part of the emptied Aylesbury Estate in Southwark, South London, has been occupied since the March for Homes in the capital on January 31
Said a statement from the occupiers on February 5: “Around 4.45 PM police and workers attacked one of the buildings we had reclaimed. It was not the main part of the occupation, but the building immediately adjoining. Cops blocked off the walkways while council workers smashed their way into the houses.
“We are tenants, squatters, and other people who care about how our city is being grabbed by the rich, by developers and corrupt politicians, socially cleansed and sold off for profit.”
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Earth First! Winter Moot will be held from February 20-22 in Bristol. This is a weekend gathering for people involved or wanting to know more about ecological direct action around the UK including fighting opencast coal, fracking, GM, nuclear power, new road building and quarries with discussions and campaign planning – emphasis on the tactics and strategies, community solidarity and sustainable activism.
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The Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair / Ffair Lyfrau Anarchaidd Caerdydda 2015 will be staged on Saturday February 21. More info at https://southwalesanarchists.wordpress.com/
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Anti-fascists are being urged to head for Dudley in the West Midlands on Saturday February 7 to oppose the EDL. Says the Anti-Fascist Network: “The racists of the English Defence League (EDL) are planning to have their national demo on Saturday February the 7th in Dudley. They are treating it very seriously, and anti-fascists need to be just as committed and more organised. In the context of Charlie Hebdo, Islamophobia from the government, the media and the far-right is on the rise. Letting them feel they can have these views and gather in an attempt to intimidate Black, Asian and other minority ethnic populations is not an option.”
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Oi Polloi and Flatpig are among the bands lined up for an anarcho-punk gig at The Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, on Saturday February 28. Also on the bill are Bug Central, Slug, Refuse/All, and The Disinclined. Entry £8. From 7.30pm.
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