Site guard defects to join road protesters

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ECO-WARRIORS were celebrating last night after a security guard at the planned site of a new toll road defected to the side of the protesters.

Dean Smith, 23, who gave up his pounds 6-an-hour job after only a week, spoke out against the privately owned Birmingham Northern Relief Road, which will cut through the countryside in Warwickshire, the West Midlands and Staffordshire. He said: "I've just had a 12-hour shift, I've been there six days... I stood there and I thought about everything that was going on and I came to the conclusion I was doing the wrong thing - I was on the wrong side of the fence. So I've come to this side, make a stance and get some satisfaction from it. The Government takes liberties, too many liberties."

Mr Smith told GMTV: "I've done six days but that will now be terminated to something like pounds 1-an-hour so I've lost out a lot but at the end of the day I feel better for it." Dozens of protesters are positioned in a network of tunnels at the site along the route in Weeford, Staffordshire.

In October campaigners in the Alliance Against the BNRR failed in a High Court bid to overturn a decision by John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, to allow the pounds 700m project to go ahead. They argued that the 27-mile road would cut a huge swath through Green Belt land, cross nature sites, destroy homes and threaten local jobs.

The road is intended to relieve congestion on the M6 around Birmingham and work is due to start next year.

Fraser Halliday, of Project Security Limited, Mr Smith's former employer, said: "We fully screen all security officers to industry standards but we cannot screen anybody for their sympathies for people like the protesters."