January 29, 2014 by combehavendefenders
ANTI-ROAD PROTESTORS WIN EPIC COURT BATTLE (ON POINTS)
Campaigners already found not guilty of at least 54% of charges as trials continue
Campaigners arrested during protests against the £113m Bexhill-Hastings Link Road (BHLR) have already been found not guilty of over half of the 39 charges originally brought against them.
The nineteen defendants – including grandmothers, students, scientists and artists – were originally charged with a total of 39 offences between them. They have already been acquitted of – or had the charges dropped for – 21 of these, and further acquittals are still possible.
Their six trials – which recommenced on Tuesday (28 January) and look set to continue into next week – have now been running since the beginning of September 2013, though verdicts have so far only been given for eight of the nineteen defendants. The verdict in Trial #4 has been set for 12 March in Brighton Magistrates Court.
The campaign against the BHLR – the ‘first and the worst’ of over 200 new road-building projects that the Chancellor, Big Business and local councils are currently pushing throughout England and Wales  – attracted national media attention in January 2013, after campaigners occupied trees and tunnels in Combe Haven valley in an attempt to stop the project.
One of the defendants, Adrian Hopkins, said: “For me it seems insane that 19 ordinary people have been put on trial for trying to prevent the wasting of over $100m of public money, the wrecking of our natural environment and the undermining of effective national action to tackle climate change. It is those who have championed this self-serving vanity project and consistently misled people about its true nature who should be in the dock to face the consequences of their words and actions.”
 See http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/campaigns/roads-to-nowhere/map for an online map of the proposals. For background see the Campaign for Better Transport’s October 2012 briefing ‘Going backwards: the new roads programme’: http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/media/26-Oct-roads-report. The latter lists 191 projects (more have come to light since then), conservatively costed at £30bn, including 76 bypasses, 56 widened roads, 48 link roads and 9 bridges and tunnels. It also notes that ‘Many of the roads would affect areas protected for conservation, landscape and heritage reasons incl[uding] three National Parks, the National Wetland of the Norfolk Broads and at least seven Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).