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Faslane peace camp set for eviction war

TUNNELS, tree-houses, and barricades were being renewed or prepared yesterday at the Faslane Peace Camp after anti-nuclear protesters lost their latest court battle against eviction.

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Argyll and Bute District Council has been trying for over two years to move the caravan and tent-living protesters who have become such a colourful, if untidy, sight at Shandon near the Royal Navy's nuclear submarine base at Faslane on the Gare Loch. The protesters felt they had won a famous victory in April when the original eviction notice was ruled as legally incompetent as it did not list the names of those to be evicted. That ruling, however, was appealed at Paisley Sheriff Court yesterday when the names were added to the notice, even though the campers' lawyer, Peter Farrell, argued in vain that it was too late in law to add them. Ironically, the council used the names of the people he was representing in order to amend the summons. The legal reversal is unlikely to make the protesters give up, and it seems inevitable a number will dig in at the site in order to make any attempts to remove them by sheriff officers as difficult as possible. Some have experience of similar protests at the Newbury by-pass and the Manchester Airport extension, and have learned how to disrupt eviction methods. Argyll and Bute Council has now to decide how to act. It seems likely that, armed with the eviction notice, it will attempt to negotiate the ending of the camp peacefully. If that fails, then sheriff officers, backed up by a police presence to ensure there is no violence, would be the next move. That, though, could prove expensive to the council, already operating under tight spending restrictions. It may be some weeks, therefore, before such action would be contemplated. A council spokesman said last night: ''Careful consideration will now be given as to how and when to enforce the decree. At this point the council is not able to indicate when that consideration will take place.'' The protesters, who want the submarines armed with the Trident nuclear missiles based at Faslane, to be removed, are already preparing their defences. Mr David Heller, 22, from Hull, who has lived at the site on the A814 for three months, said: ''The campaign is not going to stop here. There are millions of people out there who oppose Trident, and that is not going to end just because a court has granted an order to evict us.'' He said he and his colleagues had already spent a lot of effort ''preparing defences''. ''We will be putting the word out right away and calling on reserves. We have a strategy worked out and that will now be put in place,'' he added. Another campaigner, ''Beardy'' Graham, 44, from Paisley, said: ''It is too late in the day to give up. We built the fortifications and now we will be using them.'' There was backing from Scottish CND. Administrator John Ainslie said that, with all British nuclear weapons now based on the Clyde, the camp's presence was more important than ever. At the court, Sheriff-Principal Hay, who heard the council's appeal, said he was satisfied the amendment was competent and allowed the summons to be amended accordingly. Mr Farrell said the council had won it on a technical point, but conceded that he had won the first court hearing in April on a technical point and therefore there was ''no point in crying over spilt milk.''

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