Campaigners mark 20th anniversary of protest to stop re-routing of M3 motorway near Winchester

A protester is removed at Twyford Down during the campaign to stop the re-routing of the M3 in 1992

A protester is removed at Twyford Down during the campaign to stop the re-routing of the M3 in 1992

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by

CAMPAIGNERS from around the country have joined a rally to mark the 20th anniversary of a Hampshire protest which changed the landscape of Government road-building policy for a generation.

The fight to save Twyford Down, near Winchester , from the diggers in the 1990s was a watershed moment for campaigners battling against road expansion by the then Conservative administration.

Today protesters warned that the country faces a major new programme of nationwide road-building.

About 100 people took part in the reunion where a 98ft banner was unfurled on top of the down which read: “Twenty years since Twyford Down. Don't go backwards, no new roads.”

Dr Chris Gillam, who returned to the site where he protested 20 years ago, said of the proposals for new roads: “Plans for these roads have already been fought and defeated.

“But, like zombies, they keep coming back. Their impacts haven't changed and local opposition will be just as strong.

“This weekend's event at Twyford Down will let people know what's coming.

“It will embolden and connect those who do not wish to see local environments destroyed and their towns and cities made even more car-dependent.

“And it will remind people that collectively taking action can change things.”

The Campaign for Better Transport has identified 70 projects across the country and expects hundreds more to emerge from local authority and Local Enterprise Partnership plans.

Chief executive Stephen Joseph said: “Government has forgotten the lessons they were taught at places like Twyford Down.

“Major road-building is slow, expensive and disastrous for the environment .

“By allowing a programme of road-building by stealth to develop, the Government is setting itself up for long and vociferous fights up and down the country.

“We need to deal with the real transport problems being faced by local communities.

“This means fixing potholes in existing roads, investing in decent public transport services and getting freight off road and on to rail.”

The Twyford Down campaign by grassroots environmentalists like the Dongas Tribe, Road Alert and Earth First, and aided by organisations like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, was joined by local people who wanted to keep the ancient down and it went nationwide.

Work to cut a 40ft wide and 100ft deep, two-mile cutting through the chalk face of the down for the M3 extension started in 1992 and led to bitter fights, with several protesters eventually being jailed.

Campaigners occupied the site in tunnels and chained themselves to diggers in an attempt to stop the extension after years of legal challenges to the work failed.

It was the UK's first road protest camp but soon it was a tactic familiar across the country in the years to come in places like Newbury in Berkshire.

The extension was completed in 1994, but at a high cost, and the countrywide opposition forced the Government to rethink.

It initially cut an ugly white chalk scar into the landscape around Winchester but, in later years, it has grown over and become less of an eyesore.

The Government pressed ahead with Twyford Down because it had instigated an ambitious expansion of roads in the UK after a controversial White Paper in 1989 called Roads To Prosperity signalled a multibillion-pound spend on 500 road-building schemes.

But by 1994, research found more roads led only to more cars and alternative ideas to limit car use started to be considered, with the Labour government then scrapping the expansion.

Twyford Down caused such emotion because it had been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, was recognised as a gathering place for ancient tribes and was criss-crossed by “Dongas” - a network of ancient pathways.

But the existing road network around Winchester had also become a bottleneck, with major roads like the A34, A31 and A33 meeting in the city.

A bypass, built in the 1930s, helped but, by the 1990s, that represented the missing link in the M3 from London to Southampton with traffic queuing for miles at the infamous Hockley traffic lights just outside the city.

Comments (19)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

5:36pm Sat 29 Sep 12

CHARLIE TAYLOR says...

whatever happened to Swampie?
whatever happened to Swampie? CHARLIE TAYLOR
  • Score: 0

5:52pm Sat 29 Sep 12

MGRA says...

what is shocking is that the police actually had vans made by that company !!
what is shocking is that the police actually had vans made by that company !! MGRA
  • Score: 0

5:55pm Sat 29 Sep 12

Fatty x Ford Worker says...

What a Blot on the Landscape where was the undergound bit!
What a Blot on the Landscape where was the undergound bit! Fatty x Ford Worker
  • Score: 0

6:25pm Sat 29 Sep 12

dango says...

MGRA wrote:
what is shocking is that the police actually had vans made by that company !!
beat me to it! They bought Fiat vans, seriously?
[quote][p][bold]MGRA[/bold] wrote: what is shocking is that the police actually had vans made by that company !![/p][/quote]beat me to it! They bought Fiat vans, seriously? dango
  • Score: 0

6:38pm Sat 29 Sep 12

8089 says...

I bet most of those protesters are only too happy to use the road now though!
I bet most of those protesters are only too happy to use the road now though! 8089
  • Score: 0

6:46pm Sat 29 Sep 12

MGRA says...

dango wrote:
MGRA wrote:
what is shocking is that the police actually had vans made by that company !!
beat me to it! They bought Fiat vans, seriously?
incredible..... Fred Flintstone mobiles would have been a better option ,,, surely !
[quote][p][bold]dango[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]MGRA[/bold] wrote: what is shocking is that the police actually had vans made by that company !![/p][/quote]beat me to it! They bought Fiat vans, seriously?[/p][/quote]incredible..... Fred Flintstone mobiles would have been a better option ,,, surely ! MGRA
  • Score: 0

6:56pm Sat 29 Sep 12

huckit P says...

Yes, the protests certainly changed things - like the final bill which had to be paid by the average taxpayer (and I bet there weren't many of those in the protesters camp!).
Yes, the protests certainly changed things - like the final bill which had to be paid by the average taxpayer (and I bet there weren't many of those in the protesters camp!). huckit P
  • Score: 0

6:57pm Sat 29 Sep 12

espanuel says...

8089. Totaly agree with you,I bet they dont take the long way round.
8089. Totaly agree with you,I bet they dont take the long way round. espanuel
  • Score: 0

7:23pm Sat 29 Sep 12

Tottonion says...

And it will remind people that collectively taking action can change things.”

So what changed at Twyford Down???
And it will remind people that collectively taking action can change things.” So what changed at Twyford Down??? Tottonion
  • Score: 0

7:30pm Sat 29 Sep 12

downfader says...

huckit P wrote:
Yes, the protests certainly changed things - like the final bill which had to be paid by the average taxpayer (and I bet there weren't many of those in the protesters camp!).
You bet..? How about going to find out how many have been in work since or during?

There are better ways of dealing with traffic than building too many roads. In the last DFT traffic report it was established that for the 2011 period that 66% of all journeys were for less than 5 miles. In the 2010 report the average trip distance was figured out to be 6 miles.

On that basis there is no need for more road infrastructure - just some pragmatism on how we use them
[quote][p][bold]huckit P[/bold] wrote: Yes, the protests certainly changed things - like the final bill which had to be paid by the average taxpayer (and I bet there weren't many of those in the protesters camp!).[/p][/quote]You bet..? How about going to find out how many have been in work since or during? There are better ways of dealing with traffic than building too many roads. In the last DFT traffic report it was established that for the 2011 period that 66% of all journeys were for less than 5 miles. In the 2010 report the average trip distance was figured out to be 6 miles. On that basis there is no need for more road infrastructure - just some pragmatism on how we use them downfader
  • Score: 0

7:40pm Sat 29 Sep 12

100%HANTSBOY says...

downfader wrote:
huckit P wrote:
Yes, the protests certainly changed things - like the final bill which had to be paid by the average taxpayer (and I bet there weren't many of those in the protesters camp!).
You bet..? How about going to find out how many have been in work since or during?

There are better ways of dealing with traffic than building too many roads. In the last DFT traffic report it was established that for the 2011 period that 66% of all journeys were for less than 5 miles. In the 2010 report the average trip distance was figured out to be 6 miles.

On that basis there is no need for more road infrastructure - just some pragmatism on how we use them
Yes totally agree,time to increase bus routes and reduce bus fares,and train fares.
Obviously there is no incentive (green or financial) for the Govts. of the time to force people out of their cars and onto public transport.
Car sharing should be pushed more
Coach travel and new coach stations and out of town park and ride is the way forward.
[quote][p][bold]downfader[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]huckit P[/bold] wrote: Yes, the protests certainly changed things - like the final bill which had to be paid by the average taxpayer (and I bet there weren't many of those in the protesters camp!).[/p][/quote]You bet..? How about going to find out how many have been in work since or during? There are better ways of dealing with traffic than building too many roads. In the last DFT traffic report it was established that for the 2011 period that 66% of all journeys were for less than 5 miles. In the 2010 report the average trip distance was figured out to be 6 miles. On that basis there is no need for more road infrastructure - just some pragmatism on how we use them[/p][/quote]Yes totally agree,time to increase bus routes and reduce bus fares,and train fares. Obviously there is no incentive (green or financial) for the Govts. of the time to force people out of their cars and onto public transport. Car sharing should be pushed more Coach travel and new coach stations and out of town park and ride is the way forward. 100%HANTSBOY
  • Score: 0

7:56pm Sat 29 Sep 12

downfader says...

100%HANTSBOY wrote:
downfader wrote:
huckit P wrote:
Yes, the protests certainly changed things - like the final bill which had to be paid by the average taxpayer (and I bet there weren't many of those in the protesters camp!).
You bet..? How about going to find out how many have been in work since or during?

There are better ways of dealing with traffic than building too many roads. In the last DFT traffic report it was established that for the 2011 period that 66% of all journeys were for less than 5 miles. In the 2010 report the average trip distance was figured out to be 6 miles.

On that basis there is no need for more road infrastructure - just some pragmatism on how we use them
Yes totally agree,time to increase bus routes and reduce bus fares,and train fares.
Obviously there is no incentive (green or financial) for the Govts. of the time to force people out of their cars and onto public transport.
Car sharing should be pushed more
Coach travel and new coach stations and out of town park and ride is the way forward.
Agree. Car-pooling is very beneficial, cheap. Bus/train firms have to think more about their customers than their shareholders too, suspect thats a major factor in high fares.

One other way of reducing traffic - buy food shopping online. One lorry can deliver to many, many homes.
[quote][p][bold]100%HANTSBOY[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]downfader[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]huckit P[/bold] wrote: Yes, the protests certainly changed things - like the final bill which had to be paid by the average taxpayer (and I bet there weren't many of those in the protesters camp!).[/p][/quote]You bet..? How about going to find out how many have been in work since or during? There are better ways of dealing with traffic than building too many roads. In the last DFT traffic report it was established that for the 2011 period that 66% of all journeys were for less than 5 miles. In the 2010 report the average trip distance was figured out to be 6 miles. On that basis there is no need for more road infrastructure - just some pragmatism on how we use them[/p][/quote]Yes totally agree,time to increase bus routes and reduce bus fares,and train fares. Obviously there is no incentive (green or financial) for the Govts. of the time to force people out of their cars and onto public transport. Car sharing should be pushed more Coach travel and new coach stations and out of town park and ride is the way forward.[/p][/quote]Agree. Car-pooling is very beneficial, cheap. Bus/train firms have to think more about their customers than their shareholders too, suspect thats a major factor in high fares. One other way of reducing traffic - buy food shopping online. One lorry can deliver to many, many homes. downfader
  • Score: 0

9:11am Sun 30 Sep 12

Maine Lobster says...

Tottonion wrote:
And it will remind people that collectively taking action can change things.”

So what changed at Twyford Down???
People taking collective action cand change things. eg the anti Poll Tax movement which included a cross section of the community uniting against an unjust tax.
The Twyford Down protesters were a few genuine environmentalists supported by the usual bunch of serial yobbos up for a ruck with the Police.
the majority of society wanted the cutting done, thank heavens!
If the cause is right, the people will come!
[quote][p][bold]Tottonion[/bold] wrote: And it will remind people that collectively taking action can change things.” So what changed at Twyford Down???[/p][/quote]People taking collective action cand change things. eg the anti Poll Tax movement which included a cross section of the community uniting against an unjust tax. The Twyford Down protesters were a few genuine environmentalists supported by the usual bunch of serial yobbos up for a ruck with the Police. the majority of society wanted the cutting done, thank heavens! If the cause is right, the people will come! Maine Lobster
  • Score: 0

9:19am Sun 30 Sep 12

downfader says...

Part of the issue for me is how we're supposed to be going through austerity, and this Government have committed more money to road building than the last. They've been throwing lots of money at quangos and contractors to investigate potential routes, look at rerouting homes, business and farming.

You have to admit - isnt it a bit rich to throw money at this when there are roads in such disrepair... where councils and the highways agency both end up saying "we cant budget for fixing the problem."

This government should throw the money at repairing what we currently have instead
Part of the issue for me is how we're supposed to be going through austerity, and this Government have committed more money to road building than the last. They've been throwing lots of money at quangos and contractors to investigate potential routes, look at rerouting homes, business and farming. You have to admit - isnt it a bit rich to throw money at this when there are roads in such disrepair... where councils and the highways agency both end up saying "we cant budget for fixing the problem." This government should throw the money at repairing what we currently have instead downfader
  • Score: 0

10:03am Sun 30 Sep 12

Torchie1 says...

downfader wrote:
Part of the issue for me is how we're supposed to be going through austerity, and this Government have committed more money to road building than the last. They've been throwing lots of money at quangos and contractors to investigate potential routes, look at rerouting homes, business and farming.

You have to admit - isnt it a bit rich to throw money at this when there are roads in such disrepair... where councils and the highways agency both end up saying "we cant budget for fixing the problem."

This government should throw the money at repairing what we currently have instead
If you drive sensibly and watch the road ahead for obvious hazards, the modern suspension and tyres can cope with a less than perfect surface.
[quote][p][bold]downfader[/bold] wrote: Part of the issue for me is how we're supposed to be going through austerity, and this Government have committed more money to road building than the last. They've been throwing lots of money at quangos and contractors to investigate potential routes, look at rerouting homes, business and farming. You have to admit - isnt it a bit rich to throw money at this when there are roads in such disrepair... where councils and the highways agency both end up saying "we cant budget for fixing the problem." This government should throw the money at repairing what we currently have instead[/p][/quote]If you drive sensibly and watch the road ahead for obvious hazards, the modern suspension and tyres can cope with a less than perfect surface. Torchie1
  • Score: 0

10:07am Sun 30 Sep 12

forest hump says...

The majority were nothing but a bunch of workshy unwashed sponging feckers who would protest against anything. Love to see how many drive cars right now as they might have grown up a little
The majority were nothing but a bunch of workshy unwashed sponging feckers who would protest against anything. Love to see how many drive cars right now as they might have grown up a little forest hump
  • Score: 0

11:25am Sun 30 Sep 12

bogart259 says...

Maine Lobster wrote:
Tottonion wrote:
And it will remind people that collectively taking action can change things.”

So what changed at Twyford Down???
People taking collective action cand change things. eg the anti Poll Tax movement which included a cross section of the community uniting against an unjust tax.
The Twyford Down protesters were a few genuine environmentalists supported by the usual bunch of serial yobbos up for a ruck with the Police.
the majority of society wanted the cutting done, thank heavens!
If the cause is right, the people will come!
The majority of the people never wanted the cutting - most people in Winchester wanted the tunnel. That is why the Tories lost the seat in Winchester after the motorway was completed.
[quote][p][bold]Maine Lobster[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Tottonion[/bold] wrote: And it will remind people that collectively taking action can change things.” So what changed at Twyford Down???[/p][/quote]People taking collective action cand change things. eg the anti Poll Tax movement which included a cross section of the community uniting against an unjust tax. The Twyford Down protesters were a few genuine environmentalists supported by the usual bunch of serial yobbos up for a ruck with the Police. the majority of society wanted the cutting done, thank heavens! If the cause is right, the people will come![/p][/quote]The majority of the people never wanted the cutting - most people in Winchester wanted the tunnel. That is why the Tories lost the seat in Winchester after the motorway was completed. bogart259
  • Score: 0

2:11pm Sun 30 Sep 12

Torchie1 says...

bogart259 wrote:
Maine Lobster wrote:
Tottonion wrote:
And it will remind people that collectively taking action can change things.”

So what changed at Twyford Down???
People taking collective action cand change things. eg the anti Poll Tax movement which included a cross section of the community uniting against an unjust tax.
The Twyford Down protesters were a few genuine environmentalists supported by the usual bunch of serial yobbos up for a ruck with the Police.
the majority of society wanted the cutting done, thank heavens!
If the cause is right, the people will come!
The majority of the people never wanted the cutting - most people in Winchester wanted the tunnel. That is why the Tories lost the seat in Winchester after the motorway was completed.
I hope it's not an exaggerated figure but I would suggest that the millions of people who have now used this sensible addition to the network don't care whether they went through or under the hill that was there before.
[quote][p][bold]bogart259[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Maine Lobster[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Tottonion[/bold] wrote: And it will remind people that collectively taking action can change things.” So what changed at Twyford Down???[/p][/quote]People taking collective action cand change things. eg the anti Poll Tax movement which included a cross section of the community uniting against an unjust tax. The Twyford Down protesters were a few genuine environmentalists supported by the usual bunch of serial yobbos up for a ruck with the Police. the majority of society wanted the cutting done, thank heavens! If the cause is right, the people will come![/p][/quote]The majority of the people never wanted the cutting - most people in Winchester wanted the tunnel. That is why the Tories lost the seat in Winchester after the motorway was completed.[/p][/quote]I hope it's not an exaggerated figure but I would suggest that the millions of people who have now used this sensible addition to the network don't care whether they went through or under the hill that was there before. Torchie1
  • Score: 0

9:24am Mon 1 Oct 12

Urbane Forager says...

CHARLIE TAYLOR wrote:
whatever happened to Swampie?
Sadly, Swampie died recently...
He suffered a nasty heart attack and was taken to hospital...
The doctors offered him a by-pass but he refused on enviromental and ethical grounds...
(ho ho ho) ;-)
We did a lovely walk round Twyford Down recently; it does have a golf course on top of it, which spoils the view somewhat.
We were looking for walnuts, we found more than 20 trees but could always hear the seething motorway traffic in the background, roaring through the M3 cut.
http://theurbanefora
ger.blogspot.co.uk/2
012/09/walnuts-water
-walk.html
[quote][p][bold]CHARLIE TAYLOR[/bold] wrote: whatever happened to Swampie?[/p][/quote]Sadly, Swampie died recently... He suffered a nasty heart attack and was taken to hospital... The doctors offered him a by-pass but he refused on enviromental and ethical grounds... (ho ho ho) ;-) We did a lovely walk round Twyford Down recently; it does have a golf course on top of it, which spoils the view somewhat. We were looking for walnuts, we found more than 20 trees but could always hear the seething motorway traffic in the background, roaring through the M3 cut. http://theurbanefora ger.blogspot.co.uk/2 012/09/walnuts-water -walk.html Urbane Forager
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree