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DOWN WITH VINCI, UP WITH TREEHOUSES: The fight against Vinci takes to the trees and tunnels in the UK

Sunday 27 January 2013

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

A ’Second Battle of Hastings’ has been taking place over numerous months in South-East England, where campaigners brave snow, sleet and sludge to fight French multinational Vinci’s plans to build a road through Coombe Haven - a beautiful area of woodland and possible original site of the Battle of Hastings.

In early January, workers arrived with their chainsaws, and activists occupied trees and tunnels to stop Vinci’s road from going ahead. The police arrived, evicted and cut local protesters out of lock-ons, bringing down some activists from trees. There have been almost daily acts of sabotage. Two sites, ’Base Camp’ and ’Three Oaks’ were evicted. But one site, ’Decoy Pond’ remains occupied at the time of writing.

Vinci was awarded the contract to build the £100 million road three years ago 1. The road is the first of 200 new roads in the UK due to be built as part of a new ’economic boost’ scheme 2. The UK has an interesting radical history of road protest: When 600 roads were planned in the 1990’s, it sparked a a mass movement of occupation. After years of struggle, the number was reduced to 200 and finally around 60. If the current plans are not abandoned, we can expect to see more sites of resistance in the near future!

Roads, airports, nuclear power stations. It’s a rare and special thing to see people stand up when their land is about to taken from them for these projects. It is a rare and special thing to see the courage of a community face up to the greed of the rich and powerful. In Coombe Haven, as in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, the free neighbourhood of Lentilleres in Dijon and the Khimki forest we fight the same struggle against Vinci. And the same struggle continues against a different had of the same beast in Rossport against Shell’s gas pipes or in Val de Susa against the TAV rail line and in other sites of resistance to the onslaught of industrialism. In the fields and in the streets. Across borderlines, across language barriers. We are learning from each other and enriching our struggles with new tactics and perspectives. The Coombe Haven Defenders are keen to welcome Zadistes and grow the links between the two sites. In spite of strong local support, more enthusiasm and skills are still needed on the ground. The strong local support network includes a daily cooking rota and ocassional offers of lifts from the train station, offsite accomodation for breaks, as well as a keen media and website team.

The site is easily accessible from Hastings and Brighton on the South East coast, and is close to Crowhurst train station. Follow the Coombe Haven Defenders website for maps, groundrules and more up-to-date information !