This is theft

I\’ve said it before and no doubt I\’ll have to say it again.

This is theft, pure and simple.

In the Queen\’s Speech last week, a Bill was proposed to change this. It would give the Government the power to establish a "corridor" at least 10 metres (33 feet) wide around the entire English coastline to which everyone would have access, whether or not the owner wished it. Land would also be made available for open-air recreation – or "spreading room", as the Bill terms it – for public use. The Government is adamant that no compensation will be paid to landowners whose property is contained within the corridor.

The taking of someone\’s property, against their will and without compensation is theft. Just because the Ramblers Association is using the law to do it doesn\’t change that fact.

If the National Trust or anyone else wants to create a coastal path then they can bid for the properties as they come on the market and pay their money and take their choice.

That there should be a coastal path I agree is a nice idea. But the costs to us in the future of abolishing the right to property will be much higher than any pleasure that will be gained.

43 comments on “This is theft

  1. “If the National Trust or anyone else wants to create a coastal path then they can bid for the properties as they come on the market and pay their money and take their choice.”

    Not quite. This is an excellent example of where compulsory purchase should be used.

    That it’s not used is probably a breach of Protocol 1 of the ECHR (and in the US would be a breach of the constitution).

  2. How did anyone come to think that they “owned” this land in the first place? Someone must have announced that it was theirs (and then either bequeathed or sold the title to other people). Was that theft?

    Tim adds: As a philosopher a great deal more eminent than myself once pointed out, even dogs in fields understand the concept of ownership. Why is it so difficult for others?

  3. “Why?”

    Because a “around the coast” path only works if it is, err, around the coast. If it gets blocked because one landowner refuses to sell, the utility of the whole project is significantly reduced.

  4. “Someone must have announced that it was theirs (and then either bequeathed or sold the title to other people). Was that theft?”

    No, it was war. 1066 and all that (or 55BC, if you prefer).

  5. “Because a “around the coast” path only works if it is, err, around the coast. If it gets blocked because one landowner refuses to sell, the utility of the whole project is significantly reduced.”

    So what?

    According to your logic, the land should be subject to “compulsory purchase” just because of your subjective preference for an “around the coast path”.

  6. Would the posters who disagree with the right of ownership please let us know where they live. I might fancy a move if it is free with a good view. I do recall Wedgebenn touting for some such scheme and after getting it through, fenced off the part running past his land. Stupidity rules!

  7. I’d like to know how this is going to apply to some of the large tracts of land “owned” by the MoD…

  8. “Because a “around the coast” path only works if it is, err, around the coast. If it gets blocked because one landowner refuses to sell, the utility of the whole project is significantly reduced.”

    And what utility is that? Don’t we already have more than enough land and coast for people to walk on and enjoy? One beach is pretty much like another.

  9. “I’d like to know how this is going to apply to some of the large tracts of land “owned” by the MoD…”

    “Just step through this gate, Mr Rambler. Careful of the land mines now, oh, and if you should see an alsatian, do make sure you stand still and keep you hands at your sides, there’s a good chap…”

  10. We already have a lot of airports, but I think building Terminal 5 was sensible despite the theft it involved. So there’s probably some case for it.

  11. “According to your logic, the land should be subject to “compulsory purchase” just because of your subjective preference for an “around the coast path”.”

    Woah there. First point: You’re happy to drive on motorways, walk down the street, cycle on a path, use the Internet on cables buried on private land, powered by PCs from cables carried across the countryside. Don’t come whining about the logic of eminent domain using the very fruits of it.

    Second: You make a long leap from me explaining the well-established principle of eminent domain to me having a preference for a coastal path (I don’t have a preference for one, as it happens). Someone has to judge whether the public benefit to a compulsory purchase is there or not. It ain’t me, it ain’t you, and it ain’t the landowners: it’s the public, in the form of their representatives and the courts. How else could it be done?

    Tim adds: Hang on a minute. Eminent domain requires the payment of compensation. They are insistent here that there will be no compensation. That’s my problem with it all.

  12. If they get their wish (except for the bit on the Benn estate…), does it keep rolling back as coastline get eroded and move forward as bits of coast are created?

  13. “Tim adds: Hang on a minute. Eminent domain requires the payment of compensation.”

    Indeed.

    “They are insistent here that there will be no compensation. That’s my problem with it all.”

    Yep. I suspect that the courts will have a problem with it too, since there’s plenty of case law surrounding Protocol 1 of the ECHR, and confiscating property without compensation is a no-no.

    Furthermore, not allowing an independent tribunal and instead having an interested party (Natural England) rule on the issues is likely to fall foul of the ECHR for denying a right to a fair hearing (there’s already precedent for this: Prescott’s crappy Pathfinder regeneration quango lost just such a case).

  14. Not much of an argument in response to my question, I am afraid. When all is said and done, folk who demand this are demanding that property rights be overrun because they don’t find such rightst to their liking.

    Oh, and Mr Barder, if you think property, including the property you have in your own person, is a myth, then what can you say to a state doctor who, for example, thinks there is a utilitarian benefit in taking your kidneys or other healthy organs?

    That is meant as a serious point. If property is theft in your eyes, then all limits are off.
    Let’s invade Owen’s house and party like its 1999!

  15. “When all is said and done, folk who demand this are demanding that property rights be overrun because they don’t find such rightst to their liking.”

    I take it you’re happy to have electricity delivered to your door that overrides the property rights of farmers not to have pylons in their fields? But of course, I forget: YOU think the electricity is more important than the farmer’s property rights. But YOU don’t think a coastal path does override landowner rights. And of course, what YOU want goes, doesn’t it?

    I for one welcome our new overlord Johnathan Pearce. I would like to point out that I can be useful to him in rounding up the population and putting them to work in his salt mines (properly bought on the open market from a willing salt mine vendor, of course).

  16. Farmers usually agree an annual rent or a lump sum in return for pylons and power lines on their land.

  17. “Farmers usually agree an annual rent or a lump sum in return for pylons and power lines on their land.”

    True except for “agree”. Try disagreeing and see how far it goes.

  18. Apart from the obvious injustice, not to mention cheek, of this proposal, I can foresee all sorts of problems.

    They say gardens will be exempted. (KT: The path is bound to be discontinuous anyway because of that. And it will be discontinuous at every estuary.) But at what point does land owned by any householder become a garden?

    There are also some parts of our coastline which would have eroded away decades ago, were it not for the remedial action of private landownders. So is their land, and their investment, about to be snatched by a government which will then let the whole lot get washed away? And will they then come back demanding more and more land?

    Not all of our coastline is scenic and touristy. Large swathes are given over to industry, docks, wind-farms etc. There are several zones in the seaport where I live, which are privately owned and access controlled. They could well become unviable- jobs and revenue lost.

    Caravan and holiday camps may be in the same position.

    And I wonder how the government is planning to stop hordes of “travellers” moving onto these areas. My best guess is they are not going to bother.

    But my greatest revulsion, and foreboding, about this extortion, is what are they going to steal from us next? Having effectively trashed our rights over our own property, all bets will be off. And they are spiteful enough to do anything.

  19. May I blog Whore?

    http://anti-citizen-one.blogspot.com/2008/05/geonomics-geonomics-is.html

    “Market Geonomics:
    Market Geonomics allows the owner to set the price of their property, and they are taxed at a percentage of that value. However to make sure the price is not set artificially low anyone can buy the property, with a delay (say 2 years for physical). This would solve a lot of planning permission problems and speed up compulsory purchase etc. and ensure a much more efficient utilisation of land. For intellectual property this would ensure much more sub-licensing of patents in order to make the patent work, instead of using it as an attempt to block competitors.”

  20. That Market Geonomics idea is clever. Like it.

    Oh, and for avoidance of doubt, I don’t think a Coastal Path passes the public benefit test even if they were prepared to pay for it.

  21. “Don’t come whining about the logic of eminent domain using the very fruits of it.”

    Because I have no choice but to use some of the ‘fruits’ of eminent domain I am disqualified from questioning the ethics of it?

    “Someone has to judge whether the public benefit to a compulsory purchase is there or not.”

    Prove it.

  22. “I take it you’re happy to have electricity delivered to your door that overrides the property rights of farmers not to have pylons in their fields?”

    Silly argument. I assume that if the farmers who objected to such pylons were not properly compensated, you might have a point. But of course farmers who refused to have such pylons on their land might therefore not receive electricity, which is not very smart of them, unless they got their own generators.

    Not very convincing response, I am afraid.

  23. “I for one welcome our new overlord Johnathan Pearce. I would like to point out that I can be useful to him in rounding up the population and putting them to work in his salt mines (properly bought on the open market from a willing salt mine vendor, of course).”

    You’re welcome.

  24. “But of course farmers who refused to have such pylons on their land might therefore not receive electricity, which is not very smart of them.”

    So an advanced libertarian civilisation is contingent on smart farmers? I think I might have found a flaw in the system..

  25. Matthew, if the purchase is necessary for things like national defence and protection of life in the case of no other realistic altenative, maybe. And with compensation. What I really object to – and where eminent domain laws have been woefully abused – is where politicians use such powers to favour certain interests by riding roughshod over private property rights. There was the recent Kelo case in the US (Google it up).

  26. They ought to have brought in rambler-hunting when they were trying to abolish foxhunting. By now the nuisance these people cause might have been much diminished.

  27. Sorry to post again, but one thing that Kay mentioned should not be allowed to pass without comment.

    Kay writes: “But of course, I forget: YOU think the electricity is more important than the farmer’s property rights. But YOU don’t think a coastal path does override landowner rights. And of course, what YOU want goes, doesn’t it?”

    If I use electricity that has been routed through a farmer’s land with his consent, then there is, by definition, no problem. If the land has been expropriated against his will and no compensation paid out, well, I am affectively a beneficiary of stolen goods, Kay. The ends do not justify the means, which is, if one thinks about it, what respecting the person is about.

    Practically, however, if an electricity firm wants to make money linking up people to its supplies, then if it wants to put power lines or whatever across a person’s land, they can do so even without eminent domain powers if they agree price. The farmer can be paid a rental, or a share of a road toll, or whatever other installation we are talking about.

    In truth, the real reason why organisations want to use ED is, apart from say the exception of defence, to get something for less than they would get in a market. Objecting to this state of affairs is hardly utopian unless contempt for property rights and support of thieving are regarded as mainstream.

    Sigh.

  28. “and no compensation paid out”

    That’s what this hinges on. Compulsory purchase is just that: purchase. There is no purchase involved with the coastal path, and I’ve laid out my opinion that the law will fail because of ECHR article 1 protocol 1.

    “In truth, the real reason why organisations want to use ED is, apart from say the exception of defence, to get something for less than they would get in a market.”

    The law doesn’t provide for less than fair value. Of course, your idea of fair may be different to the purchaser’s. For example, you might buy into a company thinking the shares are cheap, the shares fall further, and the company gets taken over at the lower price: your shares are compulsorily purchased at the offer price. Fair value was already determined by the fact that everyone else (or, rather, 90% of the shareholders) thought the offer was fair.

    Allowing veto rights to every landowner and shareholder results in complete deadlock. That ridiculous stance may be taken by some who posted here, but the rest of us would rather live in an advanced civilisation with electricity, railways, roads, public limited companies, etc.

  29. I would not support veto powers, but neither would I accept the perpetrator of a heist (HMG) being allowed to determine the market value of the loot.

    There should be independant oversight by the courts. Landowners can easily keep track of the market value of their property nowadays. Property blight can be mapped.

    Which is exactly what this thieveing, lieing, scumbag gummint don’t want. So they have thrown away any pretence of fairness or compensation, and they are showing their teeth.

  30. “Allowing veto rights to every landowner and shareholder results in complete deadlock. That ridiculous stance may be taken by some who posted here, but the rest of us would rather live in an advanced civilisation with electricity, railways, roads, public limited companies, etc”

    The idea that without ED, we could not have roaods, electricity or whatever does rather seem to overlook the economic incentives that builders of said would provide to persuade landowners. Also, a “fair” price is for the birds: the only way to measure what a fair price is is what is agreed in an open market.

    Also, your argument seems to be little more than a form of brute utilitarianism: if the “happiness of the greatest number” is served by bulldozing homes, or whatnot, you seem all in favour of it, and of course, people such as you get to decide how much money is paid for the benighted souls told to get out of the way.

  31. Monty:

    It ain’t the government (nor is it the government in any other socialistic redistribution or expansion of powers).

    It’s the neighbors. The majority. The government wouldn’t make the move without being put up to it by the rest.

    This is particularly evident in certain “takings” in the US (Kelo, f’rexample), where the idea is to get a higher-taxpaying entity onto the property and to, thereby, reduce the burden on the rest.

  32. A favorite bit from Mises.

    “the market economy needs no apologists and propagandists. It can apply to itself the words of Sir Christopher Wren’s epitaph in St. Paul’s: ‘si monumentum requiris, circumspice.’ (If you seek his monument, look around.)

    I paraphrase, “if you seek the villains in the matter, look around.”

  33. When does the coast become a river? If it is where the river or waterway is tidal there is going to be a lot of public access granted through river-front buildings in, say, Liverpool or London. Would this include government buildings? Naval shipyards? Sewage farms?

    Or will signs have to be erected to infrom: “Coastal public access terminates here.” Saltwater spray proof, of course. Should cost a few quid.

    I also am interested in the definitions of the width of this corridor; I can think of some places where the rocks and cliffs would require a very wide (and pretty indeterminate at times) corridor. Equally, can those wishing to walk all the way round the coast demand the provision of safe, easily accessible footpaths over some of this wild and difficult terrain?

    I know I am being silly, but then so is the proposal. I think all this is just a public statement that, having been made to placate some lunatic somewhere, will be quietly shelved. But as romantic idea, it’s good.

  34. Pingback: eurealist.co.uk » Blog Archive » You thieving fucking bastards

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