January can be a bleak, dark month at the best of times and as 1993 dawned, it was especially so for those who had been evicted from the camp on Twyford Down and for all those engaged in the campaign to stop the motorway through the Down.
Some of the Dongas Tribe set up camp nearby:
We had lots of discussions around the fire as to what we could do next at the Dongas…some people were at one extreme of wanting to go back and confront the workmen everyday. Others needed more time to rest and get over what had happened to us at Twyford Down.
Yet, just as the first signs of spring can be found in January, so there were glimmerings of what the campaign would become in the year ahead: work was often disrupted on the construction site and local campaigners began organising for a complaint to the European Union, based on breaches of environmental legislation.
Then The Ecologist magazine ran an editorial lambasting environmental organisations for failing to provide adequate support for the Twyford campaign – leaving local residents, the camp and direct activists stranded and isolated from national support.
The Dongas have put the entire spectrum of the British environmental movement to shame; their conviction has exposed the hypocrisy of pragmatism. “This is our home now and we’re staying here. This is a national issue. It’s about trashing the planet. We live here on the land and the land gives us hope and energy. We are totally optimistic we can stop it.”
From The Ecologist, January 1993
Support from the The Ecologist and its staff would play an almost unseen but very vital part in the shaping the protests of the year ahead.
Perhaps most significantly of all, Twyford campaigners began to make links with other groups fighting road schemes across the country and realisation dawned that this was so much more than one road through one hill. The Government’s road programme would have far reaching effects on many communities, along with 166 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 800 Scheduled Ancient Monuments and 12 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Emma and I swore on a full moon after the conference that we would do everything in our power to stop this destruction.Becca
In the forthcoming book, January 1993 stands out as a time that was quietly important, with many layers of story woven together as more and more people travelled to Twyford Down and were inspired by the actions there. Although many campaigners felt battered and exhausted after the December eviction, the determination to carry on and the links that were made in January were, perhaps, when the real foundations of the 1990’s environmental protests were laid.