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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 March, 2004, 21:38 GMT
More arrests at by-pass protest
A tunnel maker gives up his protest on Tuesday

Seven more eco-campaigners have been arrested by police at a protest aimed at stopping work on a bypass through woodland in south Wales.

Six people were arrested for breach of the peace and one person was arrested for breach of the peace and assault, said Gwent Police.

They said sheriff's officers continued on Wednesday to take possession of the land in Blackwood from the protesters, who have occupied it for several weeks.

Nine eco-campaigners arrested after being manhandled from treetops in a fight to stop work on a bypass through woodland in south Wales, were released without charge on Tuesday.

A total of 40 Gwent Police officers and 26 sheriff's officers moved in early on Tuesday morning to break up the camp set up around six weeks ago at St David's Wood - the latest episode in a 10-year battle to save the wood.

The land is part of the construction site for the planned 54m Sirhowy Enterprise Way, which protesters claimed was unnecessary.

At lunchtime officers working for the National Eviction Squad scaled trees to try and remove a group of campaigners suspended above the ground in a cargo net slung between trees.

They suspended a safety net under that cargo net and, after scuffles, eventually lowered the group to the ground as onlookers shouted in protest.

Soon after a protester called Dai emerged from a 10-ft deep tunnel caked in mud.

It's total disrespect for our lives
Resident Sian Morgan

Within minutes of the arrests, workers moved onto the woodland to begin felling trees.

The sheriff's officers who assembled at the site included climbing experts and removal specialists who worked at environmental protests at Manchester Airport and the Newbury bypass.

A protester (sitting on the ground) refusing to leave the site
Enforcement officers moved into the camp at dawn
The protestors had been trying to protect an area of around 200 trees from being cut down by contractors.

They claim that, in total, 3,000 trees will be removed to make way for the new road.

Campaigners included environmentalists, students and people living in the surrounding area who said the woodland was a popular spot for 'typical family walks on a Sunday'.

One of them, Sian Morgan, who turned out to lend her support to protesters, said "It's total disrespect for our lives. You do not have to be an eco-warrior to appreciate that."

Nearby Irene Jones - mother of Manic Street Preachers guitarist Nicky Wire - broke down in tears as she explained that she felt she had let everyone down.

"Nicky has been supporting me," she said, "and we've done all we can."

"But I don't feel that I've done enough.

"I shouldn't have come here today - it's so upsetting."

Spirit of Newbury lives on
10 Jul 03  |  Magazine

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