Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006
Campaigners get on Steven Norris's goat
Campaigners get on Steven Norris’ goat. Photo: Gary Essex

Road Rage Round-Ups

Squall 15, Summer 1997, pg. 44.

Teddy Bear Woods – Weymouth

A public inquiry gave the go ahead (surprise surprise) in January for a four-lane relief road through the Weymouth countryside planned by Dorset County Council. But all is not yet lost. Before building work can start the council must gain an Act of Parliament for permission to close long distance footpaths. They have also yet to complete the necessary compulsory purchase orders.

It is also suspected the road may have to be a DBFO (Design, Build, Finance, Operate) because the council won’t be able to afford the £25 million cost.

If all obstacles are eventually removed the road will slice through the Ridgeway destroying sites of archaeological importance; pass near three primary schools; cut through a 200 year-old wood known as Teddy Bear Woods; cross a nature reserve; and - here’s a new one - pass through a toxic-waste tip.

The Lodmoor North landfill site contains asbestos, pesticides, biocides and at least eleven other dangerous substances.

The locals are rebelling and a protest site has been established at Teddy Bear Woods.

Protestors want to hold down the number living on site at the moment to ensure minimum impact on the environment as they are confident the road will turn out to be unfeasible. There is a policy of no vehicles on site and no dogs - because badgers are living in the woods.

“These woods are beautiful and we don’t want to trash them,” one protestor told Squall.

Visitors however, complete with dogs, are most welcome, especially those carrying gifts. Food, clothing, tools and money are needed.

Info: 0468 221454

A55 - Anglesey

Late converts to public transport, contractors Mott MacDonald, hired a mini-bus in April to, er... bus pro-road lobbyists from local villages along the route of the new A55 in Anglesy to the first day of a public inquiry. But alas, the pro-road argument that no-one uses public transport was proved. The bus turned up empty.

The inquiry into the second phase of the scheme which took place in Holyhead, was well attended by protestors.

The A55 will be a dual carriageway Euroroute across Anglesey about 500 yards from the existing A5. Swallowing up the usual - SSSIs, woodland, etc - it will also trash some marshland. An embankment will be built across the water between Holyhead and Anglesey.

As the Welsh Office can’t afford it, the road will be one of those Design, Build, Finance, Operate money making scams.

Contact: Amgen, do (Alternatives), Blwch Post 1, Llangefni, LL11 1ZJ.

Western Chippenham Bypass

Bulldozers were expected along the route of the Western Chippenham bypass, near Bath, in May. Again the road planners made sure they included a nature reserve and area of archaeological interest on the route, but threw in some houses and a badger set for good measure. The locals are rebelling.

Contact Bath Earth First! for info.

A390 - Cornwall

Clearance work on the new St Austell North Eastern Distributor Road in Cornwall was brought forward from the summer to April when contractors discovered an outbreak of protest fever on the site.

Several protestors were arrested while chainsaws felled trees.

Cornwall’s first road-protest camp may have lasted only four days and gained negative local press coverage, but it aroused the slumbering traffic issue in the area and more protests are planned.

The scheme is supposed to relieve in-town congestion of heavy lorries but will only feed traffic onto the A390 which is already gridlocked at peak times.

There are even suggestions that the road is just a wheeze to expand the boundaries of the town eastwards and strengthen the arguments for a southern bypass.

Contact: 01126 843586

A320 - Stringers Common

Surrey County Council have come up with an excellent way of getting rid of protestors - decide not to build the road.

While activists in four camps along the route of the A320 road widening and straightening scheme in Guilford, which would have cut through Stringers Common, were busily burrowing away in May fearing imminent eviction, the council ran out of money.

“With regret” the council, which went Tory in May, announced they had to abandon their evil plan.

So 220 mature trees, wet grassland, homes of bats, lizards and aquatic life, as well as the usual SSSIs will not be destroyed.

Curious Converts

Steven Norris

There shall be more rejoicing in heaven for the one sinner who repenteth than the ninety-nine righteous people - but Steven Norris?

Steven Norris was transport minister between April 1992 and July 1996 - during which time the Newbury bypass was signed, sealed and delivered.

It now transpires that during this time Mr Norris opposed the bypass. But, like all the best politicians, he kept his mouth shut.

Norris confessed on a Panorama programme about road-building in March. “I think it’s fair to say that the formula was more motorist-based than it should have been and that it didn’t apply the same kind of cash values to environmental considerations which it did to motorists’ inconvenience,” he said.

Not only this, Norris had every sympathy with the protestors. While they were being thrown from the trees during Norris’s dying days at the Transport Ministry, he thought all along they “were right”. He went on to say that the bypass should never have been built on the chosen route.

So does Mr Norris deserve high praise for ruining his career and speaking out against his Government’s policy? Obviously not. He stepped down at the election.

The Mirror

Just before whatshisname, er... Swampy, was touched by the finger of fame, The Mirror found room in its wall-to- wall coverage of those other media sensations, the Spice Girls, for a two page special in defence of road protestors.

This was January 29th, a couple of days before Swampy had surfaced from the Fairmile tunnel, but Animal had.

Headed Animal Magic: Mirror News Special on the Battle to Stop Cars Taking Over Britain, there followed a long interview with Animal entitled ‘Hero 16-year old’s four days in a tunnel to fight £65 million highway.’ The same edition also carried an editorial called ‘Why Animal is Right’.

“Britain faces a choked, gridlocked future,” The Mirror gasped.

Thus did a sleazy tabloid rediscover for a moment its noble tradition, and become the first popular paper to present road protestors in a favourable light.

“We’re not nutters and scroungers,” it cried. Amen.

and finally...

DISSATISFIED with the current havoc being wreaked on the Newbury countryside, Costain Civil Engineering Ltd, constructors of a certain bypass in the area, have applied to dump more waste into the River Kennet and the Benham Lake Stream.

Costain have applied to the Environment Agency for a variation in the amount of effluent from the Newbury bypass works they can jettison into the rivers from September 5th 1999 for a period of 12 weeks.

They want to pump 32,400 cubic metres a day into the Benham Lake, and 35,500 into the Kennet.

Related Articles
For a menu of many other Squall articles about the Anti-Roads Movement, including protest camps, Reclaim The Streets and more click here