Thursday, October 22, 2020

Bear witness

A46 Road Protest

"Civil disobedience on the ground of conscience is an honourable tradition in this country & those who take part in it may well be vindicated by history"

So said Lord Justice Hoffman during an appeal by Twyford Down Protestors

When they say interesting times, it is best to take note.  The pandemic will  fade into history it will have brought a lot of misery on its tail.  Yesterday I put a video on about the Newbury Road protestors but it brought back memories of the A46 protest in Bath.  How the young built their tree nests and slowly the strong armed methods of the contractors brought them down.

The young, often dispossessed and in need of something to protest over have often dominated the causes that need to be discussed and perhaps stopped.  What was destroyed by the Newbury bypass.....

The £66 million road was to be the most destructive road scheme in England. The six lane 12 mile road ploughed through rare healthland, ancient bogs, wildflower meadows & the River Kennet (one of England's most beautiful & unpolluted rivers). We lost twelve archaeological sites, nature reserves, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty & three Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Even the DoT's own Landscape Advisory Committee admitted that the bypass would be "massively destructive of a largely intimate landscape unable to absorb the impact of a major highway."

 A few minutes off your car travel that was what was gained.  Well how are we going to read the long list of destruction that HS2 brings in its wake just to take a few minutes off the travel time between London and the North?  It must be noted that even a transport minister Norris  at the time of the Newbury bypass construction said afterwards (shocking coward) ....

At the time the Department of Transport insisted that the road was essential. But Mr Norris, who was transport minister between April 1992 & July 1996, now says he was sympathetic to the protesters at the time but did not speak out. He blames the Government's flawed transport policy for the bypass being built. "I think it's fair to say that the formula was more motorist-based than it should have been & that it didn't apply the same kind of cash values to environmental considerations which it did to motorists' inconvenience," 

We had a fracking confrontation up the road a year or so back in Kirkby Misperton, no tree villages just the ordinary people, young and old standing peacefully in protest mood outside the gates, with the police in attendance.  The company in question was already to frack on the farming land, its ownership passed to American company but  ownership was all about profit which sadly was  never realised. I am not going to say that the protest got rid of the company, the winds of change did that, fracking was obviously a no-no in this country, especially with the small earthquakes in Lancashire.

Kirkby Misperton

I have not followed the protest movement for the new rail line, perhaps I should but it will only be a sad tale of desecration, the government moving forward on a wretched venture and along the stretch people protesting against the loss of their woods, rivers, fields, and old trees.  The only safe place for old trees in this country is the country church yard!  Archaeology of course has to be legally upheld, but I doubt there will be anything to stop the  destruction.  

references; The Green Fuse

photos taken from here; Adrian Arbib's photos in the Guardian on the A46 protest

Tearing up a Turner's masterpiece

"Let it not be said,
and said unto your shame,
That there was beauty here,
before you came".
Sign at Newbury protest site


  1. If it were done for the sake of progress it would be a very slightly different matter.

  2. Funnily enough the Stonehenge A303 tunnel has been dithered about for years, minds changing every so often. But HS2 does not seem to have gone under such rigid discussion. Just promises that it will be alright in the end..

  3. And sadly once it is finished (if it ever is I shall certainly not be here to travel from London to Birmingham a bit quicker) nobody will ever give a thought to what was there before until hundreds of years down the line (no pun intended) when somebody will marvel at something that is discovered. And so time moves on for good or bad. My son went to look at a small stone circle near to where he lives this week- time moves on and we marvel at the past.

    1. And they still have no answer for stone circles, except ritual! I think HS2 is seen by many people as a waste of money. Its like the government is trying to distract us all the time.

  4. I am amazed at the number of people in my city that seem to need large mansions to live in! So many smaller homes (some historical) have been torn down to make way for these McMansions as they are called here. I can't imagine where these people got all of their riches and why they need such huge space for their little families. The neighborhoods look odd with smaller homes wedged between monstrous ones!

    1. Large houses also of course use large amounts of energy. What I think it shows, the need to own large expensive houses is just the need to show off - a bit like the Bower bird who builds several nests for his mate and often decorates with fripperies ;) Like the idea of McMansions by the way.

  5. My country has (sadly) discarded civil disobedience for uncivil disobedience. I miss civility.

    1. It looks very disturbing from afar, it is almost the cult of the individual opinion and the welfare of society is thrown out.

  6. I can no longer speak to this. In my day we protested civilly, mostly, and authority answered civilly, mostly. Now it seems to begin civilly, but ends quickly in gun fire. I believed, fifty odd years ago, few would be hurt and there could be progress. I think I was a young fool, too.

  7. We don't have guns in this country Joanne, thank goodness. But the stopping of legitimate protest has had more law written to stop it. Our police use intimidation, 'kettling' is a well known strategy.

  8. I applaud the underlying anger in this blogpost Thelma. I think that when we fail to get angry about injustice, cruelty and stupidity then our lives are effectively over. I love your understated description of the HS2 scheme as a "wretched venture". It is likely that it will never reach "The North" anyway and even it did any genuine economic benefits will be quite measly - not justifying the enormous cost and the wanton destruction.

  9. I do get angry but realise I will never change things, but still sign the myriad emails of cruelty against, man, animal and nature. Today I have been looking at our MP, Hollinrake, who of course said no to the latest bill for providing children with hot meals over the holiday period. His lame excuse is that it is up to the parents, unless really broke, to feed them. When they put out how much the MPs earn in salaries and expenses and then tuck into three course meals at the Commons, I find sheer disbelief the only thought.


Love having comments!