one week on Dalkeith anti-road eviction resistance still going strong

Eviction Aruga!!
Dalkeith Eviction 7

Monday morning sees the Dalkeith anti road protestors still occuppying the main protest site, with all the tree houses and tunnels intact. Spirits have been boosted by the many picnicers who visited the site on Saturday, showing their solidarity with the battle to stop the A68 by-pass being put through the beautiful park south of Edinburgh.

Despite seven days of eviction attempts by the specialist National Eviction Team and police, the spectacular tree houses and aerial constructions still tower into the sky by the River Esk. Today Monday 23rd an assault is expected on this main camp, bottom site.

“The main thing we need is more people to come here to help stop the destruction,� tree-sitters told Indymedia. “If people want to join us in the trees that is great, but there is also lots to be done on the ground.� Cutting firewood, making food, and improving the defences are all valuable tasks visitors can do. The protestors are appealling to supporters to bring blankets, warm clothing, ropes, and food, including tins, pasta, vegetables – and chocolate!

The Anti 68 Bypass Campaign report on Saturday's events:
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“On Saturday 21 January, the third day passed at Dalkeith Country Park with no arrests or evictions of the protesters who remain in resistance to oppose the destruction of this woodland by the construction of the A68 Bypass.

The protesters who remain at Bottom Site would like to thank all the people who came out today for the Saturday Solidarity Picnic to show their support. The Picnic was a really wonderful time and there was a large turn out of people

The gifts of food and blankets were greatly appreciated, but those at the site were most touched by all the solidarity that was shown with their campaign. The Solidarity Picnic brought a good energy to the site with music and socialising. It also helped to lighten the spirits of the protesters who have been occupying the site and expecting to be cordoned in at anytime over the past week.

The protesters state that they hope they can resist long enough that next Saturday they can host another Solidarity Picnic.�

The heroic tunnellers of Middle Site maintained their occupation throughout Saturday, but were eventually evicted on Sunday, after an incredible seven days underground. Several arrests have been made during the anti eviction resistance. “We need to show solidarity with all those who have been charged and face possible convictions,� a supporter stressed.

No evictions or arrests were carried out on Friday. A member of the legal support team was arrested on thursday, but no evictions took place.

Protestors describe police harrasment, including police stopping local supporters in their vehicles, noting their names and addresses, and then later phoning them up to question them about their involvement in the protest.

Protest supporters told Indymedia:
“The police have increased their harassment tactics of 'Operation Overkill' towards protesters and supporters at Dalkeith Park. Thursday saw a series of attempts to harass and scare-off supporters of the protest. Individuals who had supplied rides to the 'legal viewing' area at the eviction sites have faced unjustified charges, and members of the legal support team spent the day in jail. The police are now turning their tactics to scare-mongering and harassment. Worse so, they are directing these tactics towards individuals who have acted within a legal manner and whose only crime is to oppose the destruction of these woodlands within Dalkeith Country Park.

“The police have been using these tactics since early on in this protest. Reports were posted in December of police following legal supporters who appeared on the behalf of the protesters at the Sheriff Court hearings over the eviction orders. However, this increase in harassment is definently taking their tactics to a new level with some protesters appearing in court, receiving bail and being rearessted only minutes before they leave the court forcing them to spend a second night in the cells.�

Another protest supporter told Indymedia: “ The best way to combat police harrassment is for as many people as possible to get down to the protest site, if there are enough of us then the police won't be able to control everyone.�

“Also, even if the site is eventually evicted, this does not mean the end of the struggle - the opposition to the building of the M77 through Glasgow in the nineties saw months of daily guerrilla opposition to the tree felling and road building.�

The first of the four protest sites at Dalkeith Country Park was established on the 31 October 2005 due to information that tree felling for the A68 bypass (to be constructed during the summer of 2006) was to proceed immediately. Since that time, all areas in around the park where tree felling is necessary for the proposed bypass have seen the establishment of protest sites to defend against this large-scale habitat destruction.

The number of people involved in protesting the routing of the A68 Bypass through the country park has increased significantly since the establishment of the first protest site and includes strong support from many people local to the Dalkeith area.

Activists believe this struggle also needs to be considered in the global context of the catastrophic process of global warming. A protestor told Indymedia :�By approving this road the Scottish Executive reveal the hypocrisy of their environmental rhetoric. If the planet is to be saved people need to take action to transform society ourselves,from the grass-roots - we cannot rely on politicians, they always put the demands of the profit-driven economy first.�

TRANSPORT TO DALKEITH COUNTRY PARK, Midlothian

DIRECTIONS to the main Protest Site

Please bear in mind the police may be obstructing access, and it may be necessary to vary your route, which is possible to do.

The site is in a stand of pines on the north side of the River Esk after the two branches have joined and near the cut for the overhead electric lines.

Enter Dalkeith Country Park at the north end- entrance off of the A6094 at Smeaton Lodge (between Dalkeith and Whitecraig). Go past Home Farm towards the River Esk, after crossing the bridge the protest site can be accessed by the first farm track on the left (note the site is not accessible for vehicles).

Alternatively, enter Dalkeith Country Park from the main entrance off of the High Street in Dalkeith. Straight ahead after you go through the gates, then stay on the road leading to the right past the adventure playground, shop and cafeteria. Pass the grazing fields and pass under three power lines. After a short distance the road will split. There is a prominent Scots pine here in front of you. Take the left fork towards the River Esk. After a short distance, again take the left fork when the road splits and go down the hill. After crossing the bridge, the protest site can be accessed by the first farm track on the left. This is around 35-40 minutes walk.

From Edinburgh, Lothian Buses 3 and 3a go along Princes St, up the Bridges and on to Dalkeith, you can use a day ticket for this journey. In Dalkeith get off at the second stop after the bus crosses the bridge over the river, walk straight ahead, go first right onto the High Street, and straight ahead to the Park entrance.

For more information on the campaign to Save Dalkeith Country Park, visit www.save-dalkeith-park.org.uk/