A tree protest

Misty and Merry are sitting around a campfire at one of the protest sites, which was set up some months ago, on the planned route of a new bypass. There are about twenty people who permanently live at this camp, as well as dozens more who come and go. Although the majority of local residents are in favour of building the bypass, many others support the protest, as they don't want a motorway destroying the natural habitat in the area.

The local council claim they need the bypass to cope with the huge volume of traffic travelling through the area. Approximately 360 acres of land, including 120 acres of woodland, are necessary to build the bypass. This means the felling of nearly 10,000 mature trees to make way for the construction of the road. The route is especially controversial because it runs through three Sites of Special Scientific Interest .

In response to this, protesters are occupying the land that is scheduled for clearance in an effort to stop the felling of trees. Many are living in tree houses, while others are dwelling in home-made tents on the ground made from hazel branches covered with tarpaulin known as 'benders'.

Protesters are attempting to prevent the cutting down of trees by tree-sitting and the use of lock-ons, both in the trees and at ground level. Another tactic used by protesters to stop the clearance work are the digging of underground tunnels. A network of tunnels 10 feet down have been built in the belief that heavy machinery would not drive over them in case they collapsed, burying the protesters inside. Yet another tactic is known as 'digger diving', to prevent the diggers from clearing the land, as well as the use of rope whips to clog up the chainsaws.

Eviction is expected within the next few months and many people who are not living on site are going to turn up to participate in and support the direct action.

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