On Monday, Team Lush Campaigns jumped on a very early train to show support for the roads protests just outside Hastings. Locals have taken to the trees and built tunnels in the woodland falling foul of the proposed three-mile link road between Hastings and Bexhill.
We had been following events closely through the brilliantly creative campaigns-blog: Combe Haven Defenders. The blog is managed by a few dedicated local campaigners. The campaign has also managed to achieve some good coverage in national newspapers through the striking image of local grannies taking to the trees.
But as soon as we stepped off the train at Crowhurst and wandered into the countryside, it became apparent that all the blog following in the world could not prepared us for the clear reality of the battle facing the Combe Haven Defenders: building this road will be have disastrous and destructive consequences. This sleepy village of one pub, no shop and few human inhabitants barely registers for the animal and plant neighbourhood nearby.
We found Camp Decoy after crossing the boggiest of fields. The eviction had begun. Those steely enough remained high up in trees earmarked for destruction. The site below was fenced off and surrounded by disinterested looking security and bailiffs.
Stuck on the wrong side of the fence, we watched as the camp was slowly dismantled and shouted support for those being forcibly removed. One spirited defender (later arrested) clung to stumps and branches as he was ripped away by six or seven bailiffs.
Throughout our visit, we spent time chatting with two of the resident local campaigners, Derek and Andrea. They told us that the proposed three-lane road will carry some 30,000 cars day, mere metres from two ponds inhabited by protected great crested newts. It will also boarder several clumps of ancient woodland and run over a small stream that attracts wild eels to the area.
Despite this imminent destruction, neither were all doom and gloom. They stressed the huge public opposition to the road that still exists as well as the remaining chances to prevent its being built in the coming months.
Check out this video from the Guardian featuring Andrea.
So, the Combe Haven Defenders may be out of the trees but the battle to stop the road rages on.