At the end of 1998, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit was set up to track green activists and public demonstrations. Based at Scotland Yard, the unit uses information from Special Branch officers, MI5 and other sources to compile profiles of protesters and organisations considered to be "potentially troublesome". Earlier this year, Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary issued a report which suggested that new legislation should be introduced to prevent the "fortification process" of green campaigners and anti-road protesters constructing "battlefield bunkers" and acting in a "quasi-terrorist mode".
These developments are steadily eroding our democratic right to protest by peaceful means. This latest attack on freedom of expression is taking place just at the time when the powers of local self-determination are seeping away from communities to corporate headquarters - in other words, when the need for protest has arguably never been greater.