Pipe Protesters claim squatters rights

Ecovillage Network UK office at evnuk.org.uk
Fri Nov 24 20:30:36 GMT 2006

Protesters claim squatting rights

Campaigners occupying a huge new gas pipeline for a fifth day claim they 
have established squatters' rights.

Protesters camped in the pipe in the Swansea Valley are said to have 
cookers, a TV, and boards to sleep on.

The 150 mile (241km) pipe, running the width of Wales from Milford Haven 
in Pembrokeshire and on into England, is expected to be the UK's largest.

Opponents want the pipe abandoned, but the National Grid said it wanted 
to find an "amicable solution".

Several campaigners first moved onto the construction site in Trebanos 
early on Monday, and claimed the development has caused significant damage.

According to reports, another camp with around 10 supporters has been 
set up nearby.

Pontardawe councillor Huw Evans said the feeling locally had been 
growing and that "direct action" was the favoured option.

"Certainly during the last six to eight weeks we've seen a massive 
increase in interest in it.

"People are certainly feeling fearful over the safety aspect of the pipe."

When complete, the pipeline will carry gas to supply one-fifth of the 
UK's energy needs.

The pipe is due to reach into Gloucestershire, and is forecast to cost 
£750m ($1.4bn). The National Grid has said it would work to balance 
energy needs with environmental issues, and the pipeline will run 
underground so that it cannot be seen.

A separate group of protesters gathered at the liquefied natural gas 
(LNG) terminal in Milford Haven on Thursday to show solidarity with the 
group in Pontardawe.

The pipeline's route runs from Milford through the Brecon Beacons

Caroline Davidson, of National Grid said: "We're currently working with 
the police and our legal team to draw it to a suitable conclusion."

Ms Davidson stressed that the safety of the protesters and workers at 
the construction site was paramount.

She said National Grid had already "completed 90% of the work between 
Milford Haven and Aberdulais putting the pipeline into the ground".

Other aspects of the work would be sensitive to the weather over the 
winter months, but she said work would not be stopping altogether.

Protesters are calling for environmentally-friendly sources of energy to 
be used rather than fossil fuels and want the Department of Trade and 
Industry to rethink its plans.

Landowner Ira Wynne Jones gave the campaigners permission to begin their 
protest on her farm.

Although she has formally asked them to leave, they claimed "squatters' 
rights" give them a legal right to stay - and live - in the pipe.

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