Changes Start with... THE SPARK "at the heart of the alternative west country"

In 1994 a group of activists staged a protest against a planned bypass through Solsbury Hill in Somerset. One of those activists was Adrian Abib, a photojournalist who documented the protest. This week to coincide with the Anarchist Book Fair in Bristol, Adrian will be giving a talk on his experiences at 2pm on Saturday, May 7, at Coexist, Hamilton House, Stokes Croft.

Solsbury Hill book cover

"I'd been working in East Africa as a photojournalist for just over a year with Reuters, Oxfam and Christian Aid on a book on the demise of rangeland pastoralism and the proliferation of small arms there with author George Monbiot," Adrian recently told The Spark.

 

"I came back to a John-Major-grey England and was immediately drawn to the colourful protest that was going on at Solsbury Hill, Bath.

 

"It seemed that change was possible and the conversations around the campfire were both enlightened and inspiring.

 

"We had had the miners' strike, we'd had the poll tax riots and here was an opportunity to express dissatisfaction with a government hellbent on control and economic growth at any cost.

 

"I turned up at the protest with a small rangefinder camera and pocketloads of black and white film and paid repeated visits to the protest over four to six months.

 

"I spent quite a lot of time up the trees and got to know a lot of the protestors, many of whom I'm still in contact with."

 

Adrian says Solsbury Hill unfortunately found itself in the path of what was claimed to be a bypass but was in fact part of a Euro route linking Southampton to Bristol and to the rest of the UK.

 

Adrian says this plan was "simply so that more freight could be shipped by road and to encourage the car economy that the Tories so loved and still appear to do so today."

 

The road eventually got built at a cost of £80 million, "the most expensive 2 miles of road ever built in the United Kingdom,” Adrian claims.

 

He said that although the Solsbury Hill protest ultimately failed, the road protest movement was successful in making the government cut its road-building programme massively.

 

Since Solsbury Hill Adrian has covered environmental protests for various magazines and newspapers.

 

"I've seen a frightening ramping-up of state surveillance and press freedoms being limited that it has often made me want to quit."

 

Adrian recently had an injunction taken out against him by the energy company N Power "for photographing a kingfisher's nest being cut down". He says he now faces up to 5 years in jail.

 

Find out more about Adrian's experiences on Saturday May 7 at 2pm at Coexist, Hamilton House, Stokes Croft. An exhibition of his work is running at the same venue until May 15.

 

His book of photographs, Solsbury Hill: Chronicle of a Book Protest, costs £19.95.

 

For more info, please visit the Solsbury Hill website.

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