The hole truth...

Kate Evans draws no conclusions from the antics of Swampy and friends at Fairmile

The Guardian, G2 p.4, Wednesday January 29 1997

Eco Soundings: John Vidal

HOW many officers does it take to control 75 people listening to Arthur Scargill at Newbury? About 10 van loads of riot police, helicopters, out-riders, horses, dogs, etc. And how many does it take to control the same number when he talks a few hours later at a meeting 30 miles away? None.

THE WAY we are: a £4 million official advertising campaign which is designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions avoids any mention of the environment and instead appeals to consumer greed. Dr Eoin Lees, the chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, which has sanctioned the campaign to start next week, said: «It is a sad fact that we have had to mention money first, smart technology next, and the environment not at all. People feel powerless when faced with global environment problems; they do not think anything they do as individuals can help. Instead we appeal to their pockets, the fact they can get cash back by ordering certain products and will save money by buying others.»

WE CAN tell the Chinese are interested in the environment these days. How? They are spending much more money, they announced this week. Ah, but what on? Well, said one official from the heavily polluted city of Lanzhou, which is surrounded by mountains and traps the air, «the city plans to remove 30 million cubic meters of earth over two years at a cost of £10 million».

AND THEY'RE OFF! Driven to action by Government inaction, Oxfordshire's road-deafened residents are fighting the car with the car. On New Year's Day, a convoy hit the highway at a furious 20mph. The effect was instant and gratifying; a nice thick tailback. Balloons bobbed in the breeze. Horns honked joyfully. Kestrels hovered over verges. Impotent drivers raged. But the noise was temporarily stilled.

All this on the A34 -- Britain's loudest highway, whose ribbed concrete surface carries 60,000 vehicles a day, tormenting thousands of villagers. Ministers have refused to resurface it, even though the same road, a few miles south, is called the Newbury bypass and will have a quiet surface. It's the Euro-route from Glasgow to Madrid, so the noise will grow.

The new group, Direct Action A34, will hold protests at 12 noon on the first of each month, until there are results. The next, on Saturday, February 1, will be attended by the local resident and ace balloonist Richard Branson. Anyone interested should contact John Gidney on 01865-556319. Bring a balloon.