Thursday, May 31, 2007


South Coast IndyMedia is reporting that Camp Titnore in Worthing, West Sussex,(UK) has been celebrating its first anniversary.

And as well as celebrating the achievement of the last year, it is looking ahead by calling for more people to join the occupation and for solidarity action against the businesses threatening to destroy the countryside location.

Formed in January 2002 by a group of Worthing residents concerned over plans that would destroy a unique local area, including ancient woodland. The Protect Our Woodland campaign has captured the mood of environmentalists up and down the country.

Faced with the prospect of a Greenfield site on the outskirts of Worthing being turned into a concrete jungle by road building, a new Tesco Hypermarket and a housing / commercial development, the locals decided on non violent direct action after the democratic process failed them. A treetop vigil started on Sunday, 28 May 2006 and despite a High Court order to quit, campaigners are still high up in the trees.

Titnore Woods are one of the final few remaining ancient woodlands in Sussex: one of only two surviving on the Sussex coastal plain and home to a number of protected species, including newts, bats, badgers, skylarks and corn buntings. Titnore Wood is a designated Site of Nature Conservation importance with oak, ash, birch and willow trees.

Back in the beginning of the tree top protest a spokesman for the campaign group said: "It's a huge juggernaut of property development. It's all about profit. The companies building these houses are huge and they're going to make millions and the landowner is going to make millions and I don't think local people are going to be able to afford to live there. We value green space and countryside more than money."

For more information go to

The following is from the Argus (UK).

Treetop protest is a year old today

Campaigners fighting a large housing development on the outskirts of Worthing are celebrating the end of their first year living among the trees they pledged to save.

Ben Parson spoke to the occupants of the Titnore Woods protest camp and asked how long the stalemate between the builders and the protesters can continue.

It has been a long year in the lives of the treetop protesters of Titnore Woods.

When about 30 campaigners set up camp among the trees outside Durrington, near Worthing, few predicted they would still be there 12 months later.

In that time they have fought and lost a High Court legal battle, gathered hundreds of demonstrators to march against alleged police harassment, come under shotgun fire from youths running amok in a supermarket car park and suffered a harrowing death in their midst.

But the camp's longest-serving inhabitants say their resolve is as strong as ever.

They are fighting against the planned demolition of an area of woodland to build a road to serve a major housing development.

Hollis, a 23-year-old who grew up in Worthing, was among the first to take the trees on the night of May 28 last year.

He told The Argus: "Unless they can think of some other route for the access round, we'll stay here."

The protesters oppose developers' plans for 875 new homes to be built on a 99-acre site east of Titnore Lane in the town.

Shops, sports fields, a library and community centre are all part of the proposed development, which would include 220 low-cost homes.

The West Durrington Consortium, which tabled the plans, is made up of Persimmon Homes, Bryant Homes and Heron Land Developments.

But environmentalists in Worthing formed the Protect Our Woodland group to fight the application.

They focused on the proposal to straighten Titnore Lane and build a new access road with the loss of 275 trees.

The plan attracted more than 1,000 letters of objection, complaining about everything from loss of trees to increased pollution, predicted drainage problems and the impact on animals like dormice, butterflies and bats.

Protect Our Woodland members launched the treetop sit-in last year but their ranks have been bolstered by environmental protesters from all round the country.

Since they woke up for the first time on their makeshift tree platforms exactly a year ago today, the camp has expanded and changed.

A system of rope bridges link wooden tree-houses 20 metres high, covered in plastic sheeting to keep out the elements.

They are ever ready to pull up their rope ladders or manacle themselves to tree-trunks and heavy weights should bailiffs and police arrive to force them out.

They have also constructed underground bolt-holes, creating echoes of the Newbury Bypass protests of the 1990s.

Landowner Fitzroy Somerset and his son Clem - who own 1,700 acres between Angmering and Clapham - were determined to remove the protesters when they moved in last May. The family won the right to evict them in August 2006.

But predictions the winter weather would see them off proved unfounded.

Hollis said: "I have been here on and off since day one.

"It was quite a mild winter.

"We had snow - but that was quite nice because it was an extra layer of insulation for my tree-house."

One of the most upsetting experiences was the death of David Platt, an occasional visitor to the site, who died on a sofa in the main clearing in April.

Other visitors said they thought he was asleep.

The protesters created a small memorial, with tributes and a posy of flowers tied to a tree near the spot.

Hollis said: "It definitely cast a pall over us for a while."

Many townsfolk in Worthing have given the camp their support, supplying donations through dropoff points and a town-centre stall.

They were rewarded on Saturday when the protesters handed out slices of birthday cake, celebrating the camp's anniversary to passers-by in the town centre.

The occupation itself was the climax of years of protest against the scheme.

When Worthing Borough Council gave outline planning permission to the scheme after a four-hour meeting in June 2005, 20 people were removed from the public gallery after noisy protests.

In September 2005 protesters burned effigies of John Prescott - who at that time had the final say in planning decisions - in the middle of Titnore Lane.

The council ruled in September last year that 210 of the 275 trees under threat would not be destroyed because Government advice meant Titnore Lane would not have to be straightened.

But with an access road still planned through the spot where they made their camp, the protesters vowed to fight on to save every last tree.

One 25-year-old Sussex University student who lived at the camp said: "One tree to me is just as important as 1,000 acres."

One demonstrator at a march in October agreed. She said: "We think the people protecting the woods on our behalf are doing a fantastic job.

"They're representing the heart and soul of the people of Worthing."

With the West Durrington Consortium reportedly facing a new round of planning applications after a dispute over the classification of Titnore Lane, the protesters could be at Titnore for some time yet.

And Hollis and his companions are showing no signs of going anywhere any time soon.

No comments: