Friends of the Earth set to launch new campaign against Birmingham Relief Road contractors.
Birmingham Northern Relief Road contractors Carillion and Balfour Beatty are to come under fire from environmental activists when work begins on the controversial £485m motorway scheme on 2 April.

Friends of the Earth has revealed that it is to target Wolverhampton-based Carillion in a bid to prevent the project going ahead. The organisation will bombard the contractor with phone calls and demonstrate at its annual general meeting on 16 May.

The move follows an announcement last week that Friends of the Earth is to buy shares in Balfour Beatty worth £30,000 in order to have a greater say at its annual meeting in May and to challenge its environmental policy. Balfour Beatty is to build the controversial Ilisu Dam in Turkey.

Carillion and Balfour Beatty are part of the Cambba consortium that also includes Amec and Alfred McAlpine. The group is to build one of the UK's first privately financed toll motorways.

Friends of the Earth Birmingham campaigner Chris Crean said it had chosen to target Carillion because it was a local firm. He said: "We hope to put them under pressure and may even demonstrate at their AGM." He added: "We are not linked to the direct action protesters that may protest on the site and are not planning to demonstrate in that way." Local resident Martin Harvey spent two years camping on the Birmingham site with militant protesters but they were eventually evicted in 1998 after failing to stop the clearance programme. He has revealed that, in a separate move to the Friends of the Earth action, militant protesters are set to return to the site.

He said: "I personally will not be protesting there any more as there is nothing left to protect, but there will be people going back when the construction phase starts, just to cause disruption to the project." A Carillion spokesperson said: "We are close to the site so it is naturally easier for the protesters to target us as a company building the project. Security has to be an issue on such a site, but there has been very little objection from any non-militant protesters." He added that the firm had improved its environmental awareness recently.

A spokesperson for the Cambba consortium said: "If law-abiding protesters want to come and make their point, that is fine. But if people protest illegally, they will be dealt with accordingly." The client, Midland Expressway, is building the 43 km dual three-lane motorway under a 53-year concession. The Birmingham Northern Relief Road is intended to provide a congestion-free alternative to the M6 between junctions four and eleven. The road was first proposed in the early 1980s and is financed by Abbey National and the Bank of America.