Worth Forest is an ancient woodland in Sussex. It’s in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which in theory at least, should give it the same level of formal planning protection as a national park. However, much of it is privately owned and is off limits to the public. Worse than that, Center Parcs have secured an option to acquire the Oldhouse Warren part of the forest to create a holiday park. The fact that this is a tract of ancient woodland that’s a varied and vital habitat has not deterred the mysterious private owner of this woodland from wanting to sell it to Center Parcs. This is what happens when vast tracts of our woodland which should be open to all of the public is in private hands. Decisions about how the land is used are the preserve of the owner with us mere plebs who want to take time out in nature kept firmly on the other side of the fence. However, a number of the plebs are refusing to accept the legitimacy of land ownership patterns and are taking direct action. One such action was a mass trespass which is reported in this piece from the Anarchist Communist Group:

Mass Trespass in West Sussex 27.9.22

On Saturday September 24th hundreds of people, including members of the Anarchist Communist Group, explored the woodland of Worth Forest south of Crawley in Sussex which includes the woodland of Oldhouse Warren that is set to be destroyed by the proposed Center Parcs development. The company stresses how many jobs will be made available by its development of a holiday village at Oldhouse Warren, but given the fact that the hospitality industry is struggling to get workers it seems that this is just a ploy to get local support for a development that will bring huge profits to Center Parcs. And in any case, should we really be making such decisions based on economic arguments? The value of such as wood is immeasurable. If the landowner and Center Parcs gets the go ahead, this will destroy 553 acres of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a woodland of oak and beech trees. The ramble showed the amazing diversity of trees and other species. It is truly a special place. The organisers stressed that it is important that people love a place so they will fight to save it.

You can read the rest of this piece here

This is how it was covered in the local media: Hundreds take part in mass trespass to stop Centre Parcs development in Worth Forest 24.9.22.

Needless to say, those taking direct action to restore the land to the commons and fend off rapacious developers have our full solidarity. Below are a couple of posts we’ve put up on the thorny issue of land ownership:

The question of land… 1.9.22

“Throughout history, there have been valiant attempts to resolve that question and return vast tracts of land back to the commons where they rightly belong.”

Whose land? Our land! 1.2.22

In England, people lived in a society that had been oppressed for so much longer. And so with English folk songs, you have to lift the lid to find out what is going on, and think about what is implied. This is why, for instance, there are so many songs about poaching, after the laws suddenly created criminals out of almost everyone – their way of life became a crime for which they would be hanged or deported.”

Martin Carthy