Newsletter 17

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•Newsletter No. 17 Winter 99
• •JAH Victory! the Land is Theirs!
•London Riverside Campaign Takes off
•Land Art
•Trees are us


Newsletter 17

The Land Is Ours – Newsletters Archive

The Land is Ours NewsletterIssue 17 Winter 99 This newsletter is @nticopyright – (feel free to use information as part of the wider free real news distribution network). TLIO, 11 Dec 99

JAH VICTORY! The Land IS Theirs!

The Exodus Collective claimed an historic victory in securing the future of the Long Meadow Community Free Farm after being threatened with eviction and a last minute decision from the Under Secretary of State at the DETR Lord Whitty. On November 4th the Highways Agency were instructed to sign contracts (Whitty having previously authorised the eviction) with the Collective in order to secure the future of the farm on land adjacent to the M1 north of Luton. The Exodus Collective are widely acknowledged to be one of the UK’s leading examples of `DIY’ community, providing viable and challenging `bottom up’ solutions to social exclusion. Their free community dance events, social housing projects and city farm have attracted recognition and high praise internationally, even receiving an official visit by the government’s own Social Exclusion Unit in 1998.

Exodus were originally granted a tenancy at Long Meadow Farm by the DETR in 1992. Since that time, residents and local people have worked hard to restore the area of land, even re-building it a second time after a firebomb attack, and recently the Exodus housing co-operative HAZ – the Housing Action Zone -obtained the necessary mortgage, paying a deposit of £15,000.

For the balance to be released, however, Exodus had to obtain a planning certificate from the local authority. Unwarranted delays by South Beds District Planning officers in issuing the Certificate, led to the DETR authorising a large-scale eviction of the site… it appeared that the DETR wanted to go back on the agreement and cash in on the increasing land value. “This was Robin Hood in reverse robbing from the’ poor to give to the rich…” said a spokesperson from Exodus. Having repeatedly asked Lord Whitty for a meeting but been “consistently refused”, two Exodus members turned up outside his London-based residence at 7.45am on November 1st to present a few relevant facts, face-to-face in true humble spirit. The Minister, remarkably, delayed his departure to hear their views in full on his doorstep! Lord Whitty’s personal private secretary phoned the Collective on November 4th to say that he had instructed the local Highways Agency to sign and exchange contracts which the Collective did immediately.

Exodus plan to build an eco house, various farming and permaculture projects, using solar/wind energy supply. The Collective, now confident with ownership of the farm secured, hope they will be able to rebuild it to high eco-sustainable standards as well as providing further home for the homeless, and education and employment opportunities for the local community. They are also planning to get a Home Office licence to grow two acres of `non live’ hemp for educational and promotional reasons (!?!, ed), and to build a house using hemp bricks and possibly make hand made paper using Victorian methods of paper-making.

Any advice or support to Exodus will be grate fully received. Exodus Info. lines are: LMCFF: 0152: 876721 and HAZ Manor: 01582 563292. Web-Site: index.htm It’s been suggested that anyone who protested to Lord Larry sends him another email CONGRATULATING him on his decision (if you didn’t email before, thank him anyway)


This year we have decided to hold a winter gathering to take forward campaign ideas from the summer gathering, and as a chance to have a bit of fun!! The gathering is going to be hosted by the most auspicious Exodus crew. Proposed workshops on: ? Working together as a co-operative ? Debate on countryside issues, local economy and nationalism vs. liberalism, multiculturalism and equality ? Discussions for campaigns for the Y2K ? International land rights solidarity campaign ? Local land for local people If you would like to run a workshop, or for information and details on how to get there, contact Mark on 0181 357 8504 or the TLIO office (NB new address). Alternatively, more information will be posted on the website nearer the time:

No to the WTO! ! !

As this newsletter went to press, the news that the 3rd ministerial conference of the WTO in Seattle ended in turmoil was still sending shock-waves all `round the place!’ The TLIO network office wishes to express our solidarity with all of the protesters who demonstrated at the conference. Hopefully the universal rejection of this `global corporate takeover’ will provide an opportunity for society to change course and develop an alternative, humane and sustainable international system of trade and investment relations in the near future.

Successful squat base at WTO protest

After a successful building takeover on November 28th by anarchists, “The Squat” at 914 Virginia Avenue provided housing all week for a group of activists in town to protest the WTO. Up to 100 people slept in the makeshift home each night. Despite the City’s decision to shut-off electricity and water on the first night, the squatters prepared communal meals, had strategy meetings to plan for negotiations with the building’s owner, and participated in the larger WTO protests. After six days, a deal was negotiated with the owner, and all of the squatters departed without incident. ? For more info: HOMELESS PEOPLE’S NETWORK ? INFO & to join/leave list – Tom Boland <> ? For photos of WTO protests, see: TO&c=news-photos ? For WTO Seattle protesters’ reports, see: Independent Media Center



Urgent Campaign Update

In July, the URGENT! conference brought campaigners together for the first time to look at solutions for sustainable housing in response to the massive urbanisation of the countryside being proposed. Big house builders – the likes of David Wilson Homes, Berkeley Homes and Bryant Homes are keen to develop the countryside with what are basically car-based developments, cul-de-sacs of houses that people call homes in between driving to the nearest city to work. Beleaguered farmers have sold off  agricultural land to house builders, who then store it in their massive land banks while they play the housing figures game with local authorities and try to push through the planning permissions as soon as they can. The URGENT! conference in July endeavoured to cheer everyone up a little by investigating some of the positive, ecologically sound solutions to housing need available. Workshops were held on CoHousing, low-impact development, self-help solutions for the homeless and the creation of sustainable urban neighbourhoods as well as workshops looking at some of the problems that local campaigners have when they are up against “Luxury Homes Ltd.”.

Housing Protest

In Hockley (Essex), a group of teenagers have occupied a site at risk of development by Countryside Properties (North Thames) Ltd., who want to build 66 large houses on it. It turns out the land – which is technically “brownfield” – was already home to such endangered species as Great Crested Newts, which are supposed to be protected by wildlife law. Several attempts to evict the protestors (and start preliminary clearance work before the planning permission has been finalised) have been successfully resisted. The threatened site at Etheldore/Wood Avenue, situated between two SINC sites amongst the ancient woods of Plumberow and  Beckney, gained approval from Rochford District Council this summer despite claims of errors in the planning documents. The wildlife rich area was in the Green Belt and then zoned for public recreational use before being allocated for housing in the 1986 Rochford Local Plan.

Scores more such sites face development – and even more will if the recommendations of the South East Regional Planning Guidance Panel Report, published in October, are adopted. It suggests that over a million new houses should be built in the South East – effectively turning the whole region into an extension of London. But the campaign is already underway to show the government that: it would be madness to accept these proposals… especially given the number of marginal constituencies they have in the region.

Getting Involved

If you would like to get involved in this campaign or to help some of the many local groups springing up all round the country to defend the countryside from unnecessary urbanisation, then please join URGENT! Perhaps you have knowledge about fighting planning applications or experience of squatting sites at risk of development? Or maybe you are fighting a development proposal loyally and would appreciate support from others – speakers for public meetings and access to pol icy information? The network exists to help share skills and information about fighting for sustainable housing, among campaigners from a wide range of backgrounds. By joining URGENT!, members are not committing themselves to any particular style of campaigning, but they do have the opportunity to participate in each others’ events ,and actions and enjoy the support of a wider national network  – as well as receive publications and keep in touch on the “ecohousing” internet list. The volunteer run networking office acts as a press office and resource point for information on peacefully opposing destructive developments and campaigning for housing that meets people’s needs without destroying the environment. Affiliation to URGENT! costs £5 (individuals)/ £10 (groups) (payable to URGENT!) and as always, donations of money, office equipment, press cuttings and useful advice are always appreciated. A little goes a long way. New address: URGENT! Box HN,16b Cherwell Street, Oxford OX4 1BG tel. 01865 794800 fax. 01865 243562 Website:


Chapter 7 Update

Chapter Seven has moved to a bigger and more rural office, so please note the change address. The office will continue to be staffed on thursdays .

Recent activities include: responding to Government consultation exercises including the Forum on Forestry and PPG 13 on Transport; consultancy and appearing at Appeals in support of low-impact dwellers, including Kings Hill; and drawing up and disseminating outline plans for a sustainable industrial estate on a brownfield site near Glastonbury.

Chapter Seven operates a free telephone, planning advice service, and provides more comprehensive consultancy and advocacy for low impact projects at a fee commensurate with the clients income (usually bugger all):

Issue No 2 of the Chapter Seven newsletter appeared in October, and the next issue is due out in January. To subscribe to this mine of information about sustainable planning issues, send £5 (£3 unwaged) to: Chapter 7; The Potato Store, Flax Drayton Farm, South Petherton, Somerset TA13; tel/fax 01460 *** ***.

New Planning Campaign

A new organisation called The Campaign for Planning Sanity, has been set up in Manchester. It includes both planners and activists from the Manchester Second Runway campaign, and will offer advice to grassroot groups on objecting to planning applications and development plan policies. Telephone 01942 494 378


Summer Gathering Feedback

The Gathering at Paul’s place in Stroud was a great success with a turn out of 60 plus people – the usual faces as well as a number of newcomers attracted by the forward publicity distributed at EF!, Exodus and the Action Update. Some Canadian and German activists heard about us on the Web site, so it is worth posting stuff there. The timetable for the weekend became flexible – as expected – but this was mainly due to the debates and discussions carried on with genuine enthusiasm and interest –  particularly those on The Way Forward and Acquiring and Keeping Land. Results include a small working grope to look at cd-ordinating next year’s “Big One”, a small posse set up to go for a land squat in the autumn and a small pamphlet will be produced on Planning and Land Rights. Great weather and a lovely site. Thank you Paul, Olga and Charlie for hosting us and to Rowan for the loan of her yurt. The weekend finished appropriately with a small action at the National House Builders Federation jolly golfing at Chepstowe, as a group of peaceful URGENT/TLIO activists avoided soiling the green with their eco-friendly dwelling (a tent!) to make a small but pertinent point about excessive house-building schemes on green- and brown -belt land at the eighteenth hole …the NHBFers somehow missed the point and were not amused… (thanx Huw)


GWCAG Update

(GWCAG are the Gargoyle Warf Community Action Group, set up to continue campaiging for sustainable development after our successful land squat on the GW site in Wandsworth).

Rialto Homes have now put in their new application to develop the site. Some small concessions to GWCAG arguments – of a total 658 housing units, some 25% are either `affordable’ (Housing Association) or `low cost rented’; but overall, still a massive over-development of the site, with five blocks facing onto the river ranging from 12 to 16 storeys reached, (with maximum heights, in stepped effect aka Montevetro) rising from 6 storeys at river edge).

The plan offers houses with 800 car-parking spaces, with a police station, hotel, health/fitness centre, car showroom on the York Road frontage (land would probably be sold on the market if Rialto were to get planning permission for development overall). GWCAG’s comments ( being prepared by Mike Parkes) are comprehensive in dismissal of yet another speculative attempt at land abuse. Deadline for comments to WBC Borough Planner, Town Hall, Wandsworth High Street, SW18 2PU, is 17 December. Our main arguments against are: over-development of the site, excess traffic generation, excess heights/massing, socially exclusive, will effectively reduce access/openness to river front, no river-related activities, and very little community provision.

Riverfront Groups

From Wandsworth, and Fulham, West London Rivers Groups have held a couple of meetings recently, largely for info exchange, discussion of necessary inputs re Unitary Development Plan (UDP) revision, and strategies for safeguarding the river (water/foreshore/hinterland) as a Blue Belt provision (social/transport/ecological aspects) for all Londoners, There was recently a hugely attended meeting at the HofC re the need for a Thames strategy to be included as an aspect of the Mayor/GLA set of strategies. An amendment, full detailed to this purpose, was put before the Upper House when reading the GLA Bill, but seems New Labour have guillotined the Bill – surprise, surprises For details of the meeting: email

London’s Marshland Fights Back

Lond on is a vast complex landscape. Thinking globally, acting locally, how can one protect it all? Trinity Buoy Wharf fights the Dome’s cancerous Culture; the summit of Cystal Palace opposes an unwanted, Leisure Complex,,~ and Wandsworth manoeuvres against endless new riverside Housing. With such diversity, should urban TLIO groups amalgamate or stay local?

What we are up against is certainly unified, because the Government’s vision for London is being directed from the top. Two huge Regeneration corridors, the Lea valley and River Thames, cut across upteen boroughs, have entered Unitary Development Plank (UDPs) unoticed throughout the last decade, with the Dome as central and the river as the Mayor’s motorway project. How can we pit ourselves against such long term planning, investment and regulatory activity?

Surely, by rooting ourselves in the landscape. London is full of winds, tides, hills and sky. They deeply influence how people feel, and influence our willingness to co-operate with infrastructures being imposed. As with GMOs, corporations can’t force us to be consumers. If local groups do the legwork, more and more people will stop and listen to their ownn wisdom. Meanwhile, the Downs lie under the threatened Green Belt, and the North Sea powers up and down the Thames massive sea-changing energies that a flexible movement like TLIO can draw on.

From the hilltop and river we can share our views and our legislative knowledge, like the discovery of EuroDirectives by Thamesbank to protect our Blue Belts We can also identify and encircle the elite that don’t respect landrights like the new London Development Agency; the restyled Docklands LDDC (Consortium) and the autocratic Millennium Commission. These are almost unreachable bodies for any small campaign to take on. But Europe’s largest displaced cormorant colony demands it.

Ultimately London’s urban land seems to want to be used in a more respectful way, and it can be a powerful ally. I am much heartened to hear that the Dome is apparently sinking. Contact 0181 692 5891 re TBW/Dome newsletter


Play based on Pure Genius Eco Village!

Sheffield popular arts are devising a play based on the success story of the Wandsworth Pure Genius eco village.They are appealing for information in the form of: eye witness accounts, photos, videos, anything that can be used as research material. If you were there and wouldn’t mind being interviewed, or have any photos they can use, get in contact with: Heather Hunt on 0114 221 7284

Levellers and Diggers on the Big Screen?

Why has there been nothing on TV to mark the 350th anniversary of the peoples’ Civil War this year?? Probably because the film Winstanley (available on “video for £8.00 from the office) is just about the only, film ever made on the Levellers and/or Diggers. If anyone is inspired to consider writing a script, Ken Loach’s Parallax Pictures are, in principle, into the idea of a film about the peoples’ English Civil war. So get writing and send completed scripts to: Pam Marshall, Parallax Pictures, 7 Denmark Street, London, WC2H 8LS.


What with the Forestry Commission currently selling off ex-plantation land, & grants available for planting native species of trees, the re-greening of our landscape and allowing wildlife areas to flourish is a distinct possibility.

A good example of this kind of project is Treespirit. They originally setup in `84 as a small, local community project planting trees locally and providing education about trees. They then bought some land from the Forestry Comission at Maes-Y-Mynach in North Wales 4/5 years ago. They have since replanted the land with native species, replacing the Sitka Spruce previously grown there. They have recently built a roundhouse  for people who want to go and stay there as volunteers working can the land. This year they have bought some new land nr, Llanfair again in North Wales, with the same plan of returning it to a native woodland area. If you are interested in volunteering or for more information on Treespirit contact: Martin, Hawkbatch farm, Bewdley, Worcs. DY12 3AH phone: 01299 400586

The FC are now beginning to think more ecologically and are now allowing natural regeneration of original native species to grow,amongst the plantations. Often when FC plantation land has been harvested, it is then planted with native species to encourage biodiversity and wildlife to take hold.

There is a 15% minimum guideline for planting, to allow it to return to natural regeneration. In some circumstances, they plant the native species themselves. These are guidelines however and regeration levels vary from area to area. If you are interested in regeneration of native forests, you can find out about your local Forestry Commission department and encourage them to allow regenation.

Tree planting with the FC can also be a rewarding experience. It gives a chance to work in the open air and can give you an insight into forestry issues (most tree planters are environmentalists). Tree planters are currently wa nted on the The long Minde, SW of Church Stretton, near Ludlow in Shropshire. Planting begins at the end of Feb/March. Planters are paid £80 for every 1000 trees planted and working hours are flexible. There are some great walks available on the nearby hills. For more information contact Ken Smith on 01562 637 729 or 07970 803 279 nr the time.

If instead you are interested in buying land and getting grants for planting native species there are various options available. The Forestry Commission offer various grants, the major requirement being that you plant over an acre.  It is realistic to expect that you can pay back the price of the land with the grant for replanting. Contact them at their head office: Forestry Commission 231, Corstophine Rd, Edinburgh, EH12 7AT; phone: 0131 334 0303

Treespirit are also giving out free trees at the moment, so you can contact them to arrange picking them up. Some local county councils also have a policy of donating free trees for planting. The requirements are normally that you have some sort of local project involving the community. Planting with children as part of a environmental awareness workshop is a suggestion. Otherwise, the Tree Council are involved in various profits varying in scale, but mainly focussing, on community involvement. Their contact  details are: The Tree Council, 51 Catherine Place, London, SW1E 60Y, tel 020 7828 9928


The EU Common Agricultural Policy is gradually moving from a system of paying farmers according to their production, to paying them for the area of land they manage in an ostensibly environmentally sound way. Forgive me if I’ve got it wrong, but doesn’t this mean that the more land you own the more money the EU and MAFF will give you quite possibly for not doing anything very much on it at all? Isn’t this something that we as a land rights organisation should be campaigning against, particularly as it is not going to meet resistance either from the Country Landowners Assocition or from mainstream environmental organisatins? If anybody has been working on this, or is interested in doing so, I’d be interested to get in touch with them. Simon Fairlie 1460 ******/01935 881975


Help Wanted to Restore a Walled Kitchen Garden

A large late Victorian walled garden in Herefordshire is being brought back into productive use. The garden contains a number of smaller kitchen gardens which are being laid out in order to demonstrate organic gardening techniques on different scales. Volunteers welcome, weekends or longer. Accommodation and organic food provided. See address below.

Organic Vegetable Gardening Course

Weekend courses are also offered on various organic gardening techniques. The course is based on over 20 yrs of self sufficiency, and included demonstrations, slide shows and a course text. The areas covered are: design, crop spacing for maximum yield, compost & liquid feeding, pests & diseases, weeding & bonfires, harvest & storage, tools & back care. The course will occur on the 4th weekend of every month from Feb. For more info on volunteering or the gardening course, write to: Robert Milne, Goodrich Stables, Goodrich, Ross-on Wye, HR9 6HT; phone 01600 891136


TLIO are currently undergoing a period of review, in order to reassess our position after having initiated various different campaigns under the wider movement of the TLIO network. As part of that review, we now invite you to have your say, to tell us where you think we have been successful, and what you would like us to be doing in the future. So, if you have the time, please write to us and tell us what you think. We want to know what your skills are. Can we contact you to be part o f a larger campaign? What issues are you already campaigning on that are connected with the aims of TLIO? We are a network of activists, what are the issues you want to take action on? Please send your replies to: the Networking Office, 16b Cherwell St, OXFORD OX4 1BG or email:


Popular March in Brazil

On July 26, 1,100 Brazilian citizens began a protest march in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Organized by MST (Movement of rural workers Without Land), CUT (Central Union of Labourers), and various social movements of the CNBB (National Conference of Brazilian Bishops), hundreds of protestors gathered together and began a march to the nation’s capital, Brasilia, to raise awareness about the seriousness of the social and economic crisis of the country due to the submission of the nation to serve the interests of the international capital. Walking 1,580 kilometres, the march passed through hundreds of cities on the way before arriving in Brasilia on. the 7th October. The final political objective of the popular march, said Joao Pedro Stedile, a member of the MST national board “was to realise `pedagogy of the example’, to show the Brazilian population that there are other ways of maki ng politics: to fight for collective interests …not simply waiting for the biannual elections …the people are angry with the politicians, but they need to learn that making politics is also to organise themselves, to fight.” Indians live. For more information:

Narmada Dam activists protest against the WTO

Hundreds of men and women from the villages in the Narmada valley took out a bullock cart rally as a mark of protest against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and globalisation. The rally, organised by the Youth of Narmada (Rewa Ka Yuwa) in Anjad (M.P.) on Tuesday (Nov. 30) reasserted its resolve to stop the Sardar Sarovar dam in the valley, a symbol of distorted development.

New TLIO local group with International Focus

Cambridge TLIO are setting up a Mapuche Support Group (Mapucam), to draw attention to the struggles of the Mapuche people against the Chilean and Argentinian states and the multinationals. Various events are planned for next year, including showing a documentary, “Diablo, Familia y Propiedad”, in February. If you want to get involved, e-mail or write to: Box A, Arjuna, Mill Rd. Cambridge.


TLIO activities… get these dates down in your diary!

Dec 21/22: Winter/full moon gathering at St. Catherine’s Hill, Twyford Down, Winchester. 7 yrs since yellow Wednesday. (trashing of twyford down) 7 yrs of protest… LETS PARTY!!! Hope to see you all there … Bring: all your friends, mead and cake, music merriment and magic, camping tat. Needed: yurts/domes etc- good weather – Tarmac director for pagan sacrifice… Tel: 01248 750539

18-20 Feb 2000: TLIO WINTER GATHERING – hosted by the fabulous Exodus crew, this will be TLIO get together to take forward campaign ideas from the September gathering in preparation for a summer 2000 of activity! See front page for details on proposed workshops. For more info contact Mark on 0181 357 8504 or the TLIO networking office. Details will also be posted on the website nearer the date. Http://

Newsletter Number:
Publication Date:
                    Winter 99
                    JAH Victory! the Land is Theirs!
                    London Riverside Campaign Takes off
                    Land Art
                    Trees are us

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