ON THIS DAY    18 January      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1996: Green groups join bypass battle

VIDEO : Newbury protestors send bypass costs soaring

Six major environmental organisations today added their support to the growing anti-bypass campaign in Newbury, Berkshire.

Friends of the Earth, the Council for British Archaeology, Greenpeace UK, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Wildlife Trusts and the World Wide Fund for Nature all voiced disapproval of the new road scheme.

In a joint statement they said that a solution to the serious traffic problem was needed but that "the proposed bypass route is not the answer".

It said: "Traffic on the A34 in Newbury will be back to the intolerable levels of today within five to 10 years of the bypass opening."

Yet supporters of the scheme say the new road will provide essential relief to the congested town centre.

Third 'Battle of Newbury'

Contractors began work in earnest on the project last week but have since suffered numerous delays and setbacks.

Clearance has been hampered by well-organised activists employing effective disruption tactics.

Protesters have built tunnels and tree houses and are using themselves as human shields to prevent security men and diggers from moving in.

The ensuing conflict over the future of the prime countryside has become known as the 'Third Battle of Newbury' after the two 17th century English Civil War battles that took place in the same area.

Yesterday contractors supplied as many as 300 of their own security guards.

350 trees were felled, and there were 39 arrests.

In a separate development, Thames Valley Police have asked the government to help meet the rising costs of the enterprise.

They fear that policing the protest could cost up to 12 million.

In Context
Support for and protest against the Newbury bypass have been long-standing. Both have been active since the 1980s.

Protest camps remained on the route until 1997 and protesters continued their campaign which included a fight for the protection of a local rare snail habitat.

The road cost in excess of 100m and took 34 months to complete. It was opened in November 1998.

In total more than 1,000 people were arrested over the course of Britain's most notorious road protest campaign.

While 1996 was the 100th anniversary of the birth of the motorcar, the anti-Newbury bypass campaign made a major contribution to the debate about how to counter ever-increasing levels of traffic on Britain's roads.


Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |