This has never been one of those "NIMBY" campaigns where locals are calling for the houses to be built somewhere else - anywhere else that won't affect them or their value of their property. The people at the camp are well aware that, as well as protecting Titnore Woods, they are making a stand against the tide of concrete creeping over the whole of England.
And supporters in the town are heard to comment, time and time again, that this just can't keep going on. The powers-that-be can't just keep building more and more houses and supermarkets over our countryside, because one day soon there simply won't be any more left.
So, as Camp Titnore prepared to celebrate an amazing six months of defiance (on November 28 - it started on May 28), it seemed appropriate that the environmental crisis facing the world was at last getting some national attention. A report revealed that all seafood would run out by 2050 (New Scientist.com, November 2), while at long last the Government admitted that climate change is not something made up by eco-troublemakers. It did seem slightly odd that its main concern was that "the economy" could be affected (obviously much more worrying than the extinction of the human race), but at least it was acknowledging the need for action.
Unfortunately, though, the sort of action it has in mind is predictably useless. It is still trying to use climate change as an excuse to build more nuclear power stations (even though this won't in fact help - see www.greenpeace.org.uk). And imposing punitive taxes on motorists is just the old story of the state boosting its coffers at the expense of those who can least afford it, with the end result likely to be a road system reserved for the use of businessmen, politicians, supermarket lorries and nuclear waste convoys.
The fact that the Government is not serious about tackling the root problems was confirmed by the news that it is still ploughing ahead with new roadbuilding projects (see www.scar-uk.co.uk) and massive expansion of our airports is still on the cards. A serious attempt to combat climate change would see airports closed, not expanded (see www.planestupid.com). It would see all talk of "economic growth" abandoned as it became clear that human and ecological survival is the priority.
This is something the politicians cannot and will not deliver. They will continue to talk about a necessary "balance" between economy and environment and cannot ever accept that the profit-based economic system itself is to blame for the destruction of our world. This is simply because they are owned by that system and paid to protect it.
It is this realisation that pushes people like us from concern about the environment to full-blooded opposition to the whole corrupt, stinking set-up. And more and more of us are realising that we can't wait for the politicians to do what they will never do, but that we must act now and do it ourselves. We need to display resolve, courage and defiance - like the community in Oaxaca, Mexico in their current brave uprising (see www.narconews.com) or indeed, to come back to Worthing, like the campers in Titnore Woods.
As the words of the old song* go: "It has to start somewhere. It has to start some time. What better place than here? What better time than now?"
* Guerrilla Radio by Rage Against the Machine
WHILE the vast majority of Worthing people have shown themselves to be fully behind the efforts to save Titnore Woods, there is inevitably a small clique of people centred around the Tory party and the business 'community' who are all in favour of the ruinous but profitable proposed development.
They have largely chosen to keep their nasty little views to themselves so far, but a few weeks back one of them decided to have a pop at the tree protesters. The particular intellectual heavyweight involved was none other than Worthing's number one celebrity undertaker cum football pundit, Ian "Harty" Hart.
Harty (That's his nickname, you see. It's some kind of clever play on his surname, we're told!) went on the attack in his October 17 column in the Worthing Sentinel, which is subtitled 'The man who knows how Worthing ticks' (or, sadly, doesn't tick any more, in the case of his clients' hearts).
Under the headline "Do I pay for a tree-hug?", the popular corpse-custodian declared: "Local residents are making their views heard but I sometimes wonder if their gallant fight is being compromised by the actions of the professional tree-huggers, who appear to have descended on the town from all over the south". All over the south, eh? Pretty alarming stuff!
Harty continues: "I've even heard a couple of Bristol accents". Good God! Foreigners in our very midst! He then asks: "Are they claiming benefits at taxpayers' expense while the rest of us do a full day's work? Why should others subsidise their lifestyles?"
What Harty has cleverly noticed here is that the only people who are able to live full-time at protest camps are those without full-time jobs (though they don't necessarily claim the dole). He has also spotted that unemployed people are generally expected to stay at home watching daytime TV, rather than getting involved in something worthwhile. How dare they come here and try to save our countryside for us, when they should be begging in the streets of far-off Brighton or hanging around pointlessly on park benches in Bristol? And how dare they wallow in their luxurious lifestyles half way up a tree in the middle of a freezing and boggy patch of Worthing woodland while Our Harty slaves away with the embalming fluid?
Harty then goes on to point out, in what looks suspiciously like a rather desperate attempt to find fault, that the campers "even have a 'camp' mobile, the signals being pinged around the country on phone masts which are desecrating the countryside from Land's End to John O'Groats."
He's hit the nail on the head, there! Why don't the protesters simply ask the nice landowners to install a broadband connection for them, with cable TV thrown in? Or maybe learn to communicate with the outside world using smoke signals, carrier seagulls or telepathy?
Well done Harty! Where would we be without your razor-sharp powers of analysis and unerring moral compass?
* You can write to Harty via firstname.lastname@example.org. But not if you're from Bristol.
Those who really want to battle against nazi nutters, on the streets, might like to visit www.antifa.org.uk, who are very good at that sort of thing. But in the meantime, others may care to ponder over whether there is a less clearly labelled but rather more serious fascist threat to our way of life.
Here's a just a selection of some of the stories that have caught our attention since the last issue.
* "Secret cameras capable of reading number plates are to be installed across Sussex," reported The Argus on October 23. "Littlehampton, Eastbourne, Hastings, Worthing, Bognor and Crawley will all be covered" by the £2.1 million scheme involving automatic number plate recognition devices on major roads. The Argus added that police see the cameras as useful for stopping drug dealers "as well as for monitoring terrorist activities". Errr.. surely the police should be stopping terrorist activities, rather than monitoring them? Or are we being naive here?
* ID cards are still set to be imposed on the British public, with a massive database combining information on everything about you. Info from www.no2ID.net
* Police monitoring of London's Oyster card system has risen by 300% in a year, it was revealed by The Evening Standard on November 20. Said the paper: "Officers now routinely use the smartcard tickets to track the movements of crime suspects." Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone said: "I want to know why it's risen by 300%, why they are asking, what they are looking for and who they are after and did they get them?"
* Chancellor Gordon Brown wants to set up a UK version of the US "Department of Homeland Security", dedicating a single £2 billion annual budget for "fighting terrorism". Meanwhile, Sussex council tax payers will foot the £1.2 million bill for an "anti-terrorism" raid on an Islamic school near Crowborough. Reported The Argus: "No arrests were made at the school and it was handed back to its owners on September 24." It said police "have refused to reveal whether anything of significance was found on the 54-acre site". Well, fancy that!
* The Government's own Information Commissioner Richard Thomas warned on November 2 that Britain already has a surveillance society, adding: "Humans must dictate our future, not machines." His office also published a report warning that new government databases on all children were putting them at risk. And a report from Privacy International placed Britain on a par with authoritarian China and Russia in its surveillance society league table.
Readers may recall that as well as abolishing freedom, the original Nazis were famous for illegally invading other countries under dubious pretexts and demonising an ethnic/religious minority as a scapegoat for everything that was going wrong. So when are the papers going to offer a reward for the conviction of the dangerous Nazi nutters in Downing Street?
However, there is still likely to be a considerable delay in any work actually starting on the development. Following the news that Titnore Lane should not now have to be straightened, Worthing Borough Council has asked the developers to submit an amended planning application, which has to be prepared, as do the revised ecological assessment and the revised Section 106 agreement. After they have all been agreed, the full planning application still has to be considered. Said one campaigner: "I should be surprised if any construction is done in less than a year from now."
With this in mind, the campers are digging in for the long haul (both metaphorically and literally!). They badly need food, clothing/blankets and funds to see them through the dark winter months. Why not make up a Christmas Box for the eco-heroes? Parcels for the camp can be left at Down to Earth health food shop at 175 Montague Street (towards Rowlands Road) 9.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Saturday. There is a wishlist of items required on the Protect Our Woodland! website. Camp phone: 0780 4245324
* COMEDIAN, author and campaigner Rob Newman is backing the Titnore Woods campaign. He has been giving proceeds of sales of his 'From Caliban to the Taliban' DVD to the Titnore tree camp. The DVDs are now at a special price of £5 including p and p, if you say it's for Titnore, via www.robnewman.com.
Published and printed by The Porkbolter, PO Box 4144, Worthing BN14 7NZ. No copyright, no flowers.