As you will have seen over the past few months, the MoD’s response to our unwillingness to accept the closure and thus protest these actions is to increase their Police presence at the ranges. The DIO/MOD themselves have and issue conflicting information on teh closure. The staff at the main gate and the MoD polic have stuck by the claim that the closure is lawful and within the byelaws. Yet when I phoned the DIO South East Ops Room (01420 483405) they were insistant that the smaller pedestrian access gate at the main gates should be open along with other pedestrian gates at times when the flags are down.
I interpret this as a sign the DIO/MoD know the closure isn’t lawful and wont be until the pre-determined Bye-law review happens at which the MoD intend to change the byelaws to remove our rights to access the Ash Range Complex. It is both the closure and the bye-law review that we need to protest against.
The event on Saturday 5th December (see here) was an oustanding success but still the DIO/MoD haven’t budged. I intend to continue my right to protest over the Christmas period whilst the ranges are not in use, there will be further events to follow. If you choose to exercise your right to protest, you should carry a copy of the following wording, as I do, which you can present to any official who stops you. Whilst there is no guarantee that this will give you any protection from their draconian behaviour action, it will at least show that when you entered the lands this was as an act of protest.
Please note this is not legal advice, but will help to explain, if stopped, why you are there and that your intentions are peaceful. A copy can be downloaded here so either take a printed copy or download onto your phone. According to the two MoD police officers I spoke to at the ranges last week they have no powers to arrest you but to simply escort you off of the land.
If you are stopped then please email Michael Gove and those responsible at the DIO to protest:
- To: email@example.com, Richard.Bishop727@mod.gov.uk, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- CC: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject: My right to walk on Ash Ranges, when not in military use, has been unlawfully and immorally denied.
- Body of Message: Please include whatever you in the body of the email, please keep it factual and polite.
Please feel free to CC me in as well if you like (email@example.com)
To be clear, the email addresses above are for Michael Gove, Lt Col Dickie Bishop (DIO SE), Ben Wallace (Defence Secretary), Jeremy Quin (Junior MP for Defence Procurement)