A while ago I wrote a blogpost about my first visit to the ‘Magic Roundabout’, where the Vestas workers and their supporters are camped, outside the Vestas plant at St Cross industrial estate, Newport, Isle of Wight. This update reflects my experience of this week’s visit to the Island, further on in the campaign. I strongly urge people to go to the Island now, as supporters are needed to help picket the factory, and thwart the company’s plans to move out the remaining blades, and valuable equipment.
Wikipedia tells us “The River Medina is a small river that runs from the hills in the south of the Isle of Wight, through the capital Newport, towards the Solent at Cowes. The river is a navigable tidal estuary from Newport northwards.” It’s also the way that Vestas get the wind turbine blades made at their factory in Newport off the Island.
On this visit I camped beside the cycle path at the Marine Gate, between the yard at the back of the Vestas plant, where wind turbine blades wait for shipment, and the River Medina. The cycle path is a public right of way. Vestas have to convey the blades by a great big, mechanical sling system, over the public path, over a small bit of land whose ownership is hazy and onto barges on the river.
Supporters of the Vestas workers have maintained a small camp at this Marine Gate for several weeks, with people pitching their tents and sleeping next to the cycle path. It’s quiet down there – at least it should be, away from the hubbub of the roundabout with juggernauts thundering past; and the conversation; sounds from the camp kitchen; at night, crackle of the brazier and whatever musical entertainment people have managed to contrive.
It should be quiet. The security guards have lost their habit of rattling the back fence, flashing their torches in your tent, and making jokes about bacon sandwiches – which is a good thing. But there are still sounds of ducks on the water, foxes, scuttling creatures in the bushes. There is the hum of the factory itself – the air-conditioning system, I understand. This morning, at 5am, the air ambulance landing at the nearby hospital – it sounded like an invasion by air. And, from dawn’s first light, a constant whirring past of cyclists, some of whom sing amusing tunes as they pass, such as Michael Jackson’s ‘We Are the World’.
In the morning, if you have not managed to rouse yourself to go and help with the 7-9am picketing, someone from the roundabout camp will come down with a flask of tea. All-in-all, it is quite an experience, one I wouldn’t miss for the world. Many people have expressed their desire to support the Vestas workers, but that support is needed now as much as ever, and the best way to express it is to visit the camp, if only for a day or a night, or raise funds to help others to visit and stay.
We know which side you are on, but now is the time to get yourself bodily, if you can, to the Isle of Wight.