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Profile: Chris Tomlinson

I was born in Leigh Park, a council estate just outside Portsmouth, the second-largest housing estate in Europe. I lived there until I was 17. My father was a bus driver for 32 years, and my mum worked as a school dinner lady.

The lovely thing was, there were fields and trees and a big reservoir as part of the estate. At the infants school I went to, they had big oak trees. I was quite a day dreamer, and I'd always be mesmerised by all these trees.

Living in that environment is why, I think, I always feel really upset seeing the destruction of the environment.

I remember when I was about 12, near the Havant Thicket, a group from school were trying to knock a bird's nest out of a tree with stones.

I said: “That's destruction of nature. What're you doing, guys?” I got a really good beating off them over that.

Now I'm doing veganic growing on my allotment; I support the Vegan Organic Network. “Organic” means still using animal by- products which then ties in with global warming because cows produce methane.

I work two plots on a local allotment. The top end, I grow seasonal vegetables; the bottom plot is a mini-forest garden.

A very small footprint

The reason I grow all this food is because it's less air miles. Just to walk out the back garden and pick a plum, as I did this morning, is great.

I cycle everywhere. If I'm visiting my parents [over 80 miles away], I cycle out to Polegate [16 miles away] and then I just put my bike on the train to Havant.

If I get offered a lift in a car, I say: “No way, I'd rather put my money into public transport.”

My last quarterly electricity bill from Ecotricity was about £5.50. The person at the other end couldn't believe it themselves.

Gas, I think I charged up two months ago to £5, and last time I looked I was only on £4.38.

Class

I get hung up on this class thing. It really messes me up. When I'm talking to someone who's had a good education, I think: “What do they really think? Does it sound like I'm talking tabloid while they're talking Guardian?”

What I've seen in my time of campaigning since the age of 17, setting up Friends of the Earth Havant and getting involved in animal rights all at 17, is I find the environmental movement is more middle class and I find the animal rights movement is more working class.

The vegan and animal rights activists, front-line people, are very working class. They've fought for the underdog, because they are the underdog.

A longer version of this interview is in the news section on the PN web- site. Chris Tomlinson lives and works in Hastings and campaigns to save Titnore Woods. http://www.protectourwoodland.co.uk

Topics: Green