Greenham women celebrate the final victory with garden shears and muscle power

Dozens of people joined forces yesterday to pull down the 50-year- old fence surrounding Greenham Common, marking a final victory for peace campaigners.

There were cheers of jubilation from crowds as they gathered, armed with garden cutters, and chopped their way through the 8ft high wire fence which surrounds the former US air base in Berkshire.

Large sections of the fence were pushed to the ground around the 800- acre site which has now been returned to common land.

The momentous day rapidly became a large community event as kites and hot-air balloons circled the site and local residents joined council officials to walk on the land which has been fenced off for 50 years.

Greenham Common was the site of a continuous women's protest from 1981 until the final American cruise missiles were removed in March 1991. The demonstrations ended with the closure of the base.

Jean Gardner, chairman of Newbury District Council, said: "Everyone was in fine spirits as we cut through sections of the fence. Lots of local people came along with cutters and cheered as the fences came down.

"I do not think that people actually believed that the fence would be cut down until they finally saw it. Many walked onto the land to survey the scene for the first time in 50 years. This is an historic day for the people of Newbury as we take the first step to returning Greenham Common back to the people.

"Already 600,000 tonnes of concrete has been dug up and very shortly we will begin the removal of 8 million gallons of fuel stores." The two year restoration programme will create the largest area of open heathland in Berkshire.

A spokesperson from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) said: "The final removal of the fences at Greenham Common and its return to common land is a day for celebrating and a testimony to the efforts of hundreds of thousands of peace campaigners.

"The Greenham women have been an inspiration to people around the world for their energy, determination and focus. The CND now looks forward to the day when the fences come down at all nuclear bases and installations."

The Newbury MP David Rendel, who helped to pull down the fence, said: "This is a truly historic day. After 50 years Greenham Common is coming back to the people of Newbury. Where once the bombers flew, the people will now be able to walk in peace.

"This is the end of a long campaign by local people to have this area restored for open access. For some, this has been a 50-year campaign and everyone locally will be overjoyed that the area will not be an ordinary piece of public open space but a very special nature conservation area."

The land will gradually be opened up to the public as each part of it is made safe.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own