The Bearwood and Merley Energy group returned to a Canford Magna site two weeks after they lost their battle with the Poole Council to stay in the encampment.
The Poole and Bournemouth Councils retain legal ownership and title over the land in dispute, but that hasn’t stopped the energy group from carrying out their original plans for the land before their eviction. The group has started planting vegetables since their return to Canford Magna and they have also already begun to build a children’s play area and are reconstructing tents that were torn down when the tractor trailer drove through the camp. They also plan to provide shelter for the homeless and foster community projects. The group aims to provide free energy around the United Kingdom.
The activists had been involved in a dispute over the ownership of the land and were evicted after a stand-off with Poole Council bailiffs, who had been authorised by the County Court to remove them from the site for unlawfully trespassing. Over 20 policemen and over a dozen council personnel were present during the eviction standoff.
“We were unlawfully evicted,” Elizabeth Nolson, a member of the Bearwood and Merley Energy Group, said.
Nolson was one of three who had barricaded herself in a wooden hut at the encampment two weeks ago. Nolson was then escorted out of the site along with the other activists. Throughout the standoff, Poole Council bailiffs began dismantling the wooden hut piece by piece before the buzz of a chainsaw inside the shack prompted the bailiffs to seek police assistance. Much of the activists makeshift encampment was demolished with a tractor trailer brought in by the Poole Council.
David Brown, Ward Councillor for Bearwood and Merley said the group first came to the Poole Council for ideas with what to do with the land.
“There were a lot of different suggestions,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, this group decided their suggestion is the best and they just went illegally onto the land to start doing it.”
“They just decided to do what they wanted to do regardless of the views of other local residents or the Poole Council,” Brown said.
Nolson argues that the land should be considered common land.
“They have produced a title deed for that land that isn’t even on the same grid reference,” Nolson said.
Nolson contends that the land is public and should be open to everyone.
“If the Poole councillor can come up with a better idea than giving people free energy and free food in their community and access to free medicine and that’s going to be self-sustaining and educate the children, if he can come up with a better proposal, I’d like to see it and I would back it,” Nolson said.
Nolson said she planned to launch a private prosecution against the Poole Council in the aftermath of the eviction.
Ricki Wittle, a friend of Elizabeth and supporter of the energy group said:
“I feel if the land isn’t being used for anything it’s really good idea to just let them grow vegetables and help the community and if ever the land needed to be used for something else then growing vegetables is not going to harm it whatsoever.”
Brown said that there will be community projects in the future in the land, regardless of the activist occupation. The projects include further agricultural use but he said that they need to be done the right way and not the way that the energy group is currently doing it.
“Unfortunately, because of what they’ve done I think they’ve ruined their chances of ever running a project up here with the agreement of the local council. There are right ways and wrong ways of going about these things and they need to work with local councils,” Brown said.
The Poole Council now seeks to reinstate a warrant in order to evict the activists.
Photos by Danny Romero