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Anti-Tesco Tree Camp Loses in High Court as More Campaigners Target Tescos

backup borris | 22.02.2006 13:58 | Ecology | Free Spaces | Social Struggles | London

Wed Feb 22nd: Campaigners have been in the high court today over a protest camp in Shepton Mallet, where around 30 people have been defending trees against Tesco's plans to build a new supermarket.

grabs from bbc pix
grabs from bbc pix

Alongside camp resident Ollie Carter was 'king Arthur', a veteran of anti-roads protests. Today they were asking for a weeks grace in order to fight the possession order / eviction of the site, after recieving the summons just a few days ago. However the high court refused this and granted possession in favour of Tescos.

Eviction of the protest camp can now be expected at any time.

Several tree houses and tunnels have been set up to defend hundreds of trees (tescos and council say 180, campaigners say up to 400). Despite strong local support yesterday security guards began fencing in the protest camp and there are fears that an eviction is imminent.

Tesco has been granted planning permission for the site and has said it will replace all the trees it cuts down.

Officially construction or clearence of the site should not proceed for the time being because the bird nesting season starts in a few days on March 1st, and regulations and the planning consent stipulates that work cannot be started during this period. However experience has shown that contractors rarely adhere to these regulations.

Recent months have seen growing concern about the strong-arm tactics of supermarket chains at the local planning authority level in driving their store expansion.

There's been several reports on the subject recently, including one from Friends of The Earth:

See also CorporateWatch article:

Tesco itself now controls 30% of the grocery market in the UK. In 2005, the supermarket chain announced over £2 billion in profits. Campaigners say growing evidence indicates that Tesco's success is partly based on trading practices that are having serious consequences for suppliers, farmers, overseas workers, local shops and the environment.

New groups focussing on the activity of tesco's in particular are springing up across the country.

Last week, as the Small Shops parliamentary group called for the creation of a retail regulator, more than 200 local anti-supermarket campaigns came together in an online alliance.

Campaigners are also drawing attention to Tesco's national programme of closing community post offices.

For more see:



Tree-top protester's court battle
Tuesday, 21 February 2006
BBC Website
A tree-top protester has said he will go to the High Court to challenge an eviction order to leave the site of a planned supermarket in Shepton Mallett.

Anti-Tesco tree-top protestor faces eviction
Tuesday, 21 February 2006 By Keith Hall
An environmentalist is facing a legal threat to evict him as he stages a tree-top protest in Somerset against supermarket giant Tesco.

More people join tree-top protest
Monday, 20 February 2006
BBC Website
Up to 30 campaigners have joined a protester fighting plans to chop down trees at the site of a planned Tesco supermarket in Somerset.

17 February 2006
The Mirror

Tree protester opposes store plan
Thursday, 16 February 2006
BBC Website
An environmental campaigner is staging a tree-top protest against plans for a new Tesco store in Shepton Mallet.


Every little protest helps: campaigners unite in bid to cut Tesco down to size
Paul Lewis
Wednesday February 22, 2006
The Guardian,,1714986,00.html?gusrc=rss

An eco-warrior in Somerset is suspended 18 metres (60ft) above ground between the branches of a Scots pine. A typist from Stockport has drafted the latest in a series of complaints about her oversized local supermarket. And a vicar on the Essex island of West Mersea is warning parishioners about the unsustainability of international food trade.

There is a common denominator to this motley band of citizen-activists. They are part of an emerging and nationwide people's revolt, erupting through the internet, against Britain's number one supermarket, Tesco. Last week, as the Small Shops parliamentary group called for the creation of a retail regulator, more than 200 local anti-supermarket campaigns came together in an online alliance under the slogan "Every Little Hurts".

Tescopoly, an umbrella group backed by unions and international organisations, says the website will bolster thousands of campaigners in their efforts to defeat supermarket planning applications across Britain. "We're witnessing a national movement," said Vicki Hird, Tescopoly's spokeswoman. "Tesco is a bully using its huge legal might to lodge appeals against planning applications that are turned down by local authorities, and the people are taking a stand against that."

The Somerset eco-warrior fits the bill. Held aloft with rope supplied by supportive residents for 10 days now, 24-year-old Oliver Carter says he is determined to prevent Tesco from bulldozing 300 native trees in Shepton Mallet for a supermarket development already granted planning permission. He now faces a legal threat to evict him after being served with a notice from the supermarket.

He said yesterday: "I'm going to go to the high court so I can state our case. Other people are going to stay in the trees so we will have people here in case they come to evict us while I'm away.

"It's amazing. Everyone's coming here to help, from boy racers who are losing their car park spaces to war veterans furious that the cenotaph will be moved. I'm just one individual. But everyone has their own reasons to hate Tesco, and we're gaining momentum. A lot of people simply miss having a local butcher."

Sheila Oliver, a 50-year-old typist in a hospital in Stockport, is fighting a superstore which exceeded the size permitted by the local authority by 1,670 sq metres (18,000 sq ft). "I'm only a little person, only an ordinary taxpayer," she said. "But I write lots of letters. I'm good at rattling cages and being a pain in the backside. As a drop in the ocean trying to take this issue up, I got nowhere. But with the power of all the little people getting together we're starting to achieve something."

At the council's request, Tesco recently submitted a retrospective planning application and acknowledges the oversize was a mistake. The supermarket has now cordoned-off 585 sq metres of floor space, a third of the area illegally constructed. Steve Parfett, the managing director of Parfett's Cash and Carry, who is leading efforts by Stockport's small businesss to cut the store down to size, said: "Cordoning off less than was illegally constructed is too little, too late. Justice demanded that we do something about this."

In Inverness, residents have mobilised against an attempt to expand proposals for a fourth Tesco supermarket in an area in which the multinational already controls 51% of the market. Activists say the proposed store, near Loch Ness, will increase congestion, damage tourism and pollute the environment. Anne Walker, 52, was one of 300 residents who attended a community meeting last month to oppose Tesco's plans to extend their planning application for a fourth supermarket.

"They laid out about 100 chairs to start with because there was a terrible storm that night," she said. "But hundreds and hundreds of people came. Apart from one lady, we were all against the application. That night I went home and drew up a petition form. The way this has taken off has gobsmacked me. I got 1,000 names in less than two weeks."

Traders and residents in England's oldest town, Colchester, are rallying against a different Tesco product: the Express convenience shop. Activists initially failed to halt the introduction of a Tesco Express in Crouch Street, a road lined with independent, family-owned shops and listed buildings. But campaigners have now joined together under the name Tescno to prevent the shop from installing an illuminated sign and ATM.

"All the shops have Tescno leaflets for people to show their support," said Philip Gunton, of H Gunton's Deli. "I've never been political. But people were asking, is anyone going to stand up? If I didn't do something, and just let them walk all over us, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night."

Nine miles down the road, on the island of West Mersea, the local vicar has joined a campaign against an application submitted by Tesco for another Express store. Rev Sam Norton has taken to giving Saturday morning talks on the unsustainability of international trading, and warned in the local newspaper that Tesco would "hollow out the life of our town".

Jon Church, a spokesman for Tesco, played down the significance of Tescopoly. "You've got to keep this in perspective," he said. "Tescopoly are bringing together these local issues to make it seem like there's a national groundswell against us. For every few people against a planning application, there are hundreds who want our convenient, modern stores. Tesco is a part of hundreds of communities around the country and we try to be a good neighbour wherever we operate."

But Chris Hull, a 53-year-old social worker from Norwich at the forefront of one of the most successful anti-Tesco campaigns, says the supermarket's heavy-handed approach to planning applications is mobilising communities. "People feel their communities are endangered," he said. "Tescopoly is galvanising us. When we started people said we'd never succeed - that it was us versus the big boys. We're going to prove them wrong."

backup borris