Eco-warriors gather for national summit

WEDNESDAY saw the start of a five-day Earth First! summer gathering on private farmland in the Combe Haven Valley.

Between 80 to 100 ecological activists from around the UK are expected to converge on the site, just off Norfolk Close and Watermill Lane, Sidley, for a series of workshops based in and around a main marquee.

Many have been involved earlier this year in efforts to thwart the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road (BHLR) and, more recently, the controversial oil-seeking process known as “fracking” at Balcombe, near Haywards Heath.

A spokesman said: “Slowly people are waking up to the fact that something needs to be done, and fast.

“We are just a small part of this resistance, but at our summer gathering we have a space where we can find ways of making sure that our actions are effective and meaningful .. and heard!”

The Combe Haven Defenders today (Friday) plan to lead a local walk to demonstrate the valley’s environmental value, set against the economic pressures for the BHLR.

They are also due to give a campaign talk tomorrow and lead a further walk on Sunday before the camp breaks up that evening.

An open mic night, music from Sidley songwriters Fletch and Marie, films, a quiz and a possible ceilidh, are among entertainments, with a strict ‘quiet, please’ injunction at midnight each day.

Activists also plan to visit Crowhurst village fete and barn dance tomorrow, Saturday.

Workshops during the gathering will include debate, as well as practical tutorials in self-defence, tree climbing, herbal first aid and “doing your actions without them stopping you”.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “The organisers have worked closely with us and with Rother District Council to ensure the event passes without incident.”