This really is damn idiocy

Some of Britain’s best-loved landscapes are being threatened by the government’s rush to declare the country “open for business”, warn rural campaigners.

That British countryside is entirely man made. Made by previous forms of business like hill farming and all the rest. There is no natural wilderness – what is being suggested is that the form of business taking place there might change, that’s all.

From something which loses money and makes us poorer to something that creates value and makes us richer.

36 comments on “This really is damn idiocy

  1. Yeah. I remember visiting England once with some friends, and we went on a walking trip of some forest somewhere (I think it was in Yorkshire, but it was 20 years ago), and after walking for several miles I noticed that something was off with the trees.

    Then I noticed what it was. If you looked in just the right direction, all the trees lined up perfectly. It was still beautiful, but this is no untamed wilderness. This is a garden. Just a really, really big one.

  2. The country is not there to make worstall rich. However it got the way it is now
    It needs restraint not cash registers, The poor old UK has suffered much from business. Must it always be the mighty dollar that prevails.
    Or must we wait for some friendly contagion to make things peaceable.

  3. “…what is being suggested is that the form of business taking place there might change, that’s all.
    From something which loses money and makes us poorer to something that creates value and makes us richer.”

    The trick is achieve that while not reducing the economic value of the existing historic landscapes and natural amenities. Which is why we in this small island need regulations on development.

  4. john malpas – “The country is not there to make worstall rich.”

    It is not there to make middle class w@nkers feel soft and warm inside on the three days a year they actually leave NW1 to visit it either.

    The countryside is full of people who have hopes and dreams. Some times of a better life. Some times of a good job.

    Why should your puerile preferences over ride theirs?

  5. I rather suspect that these “rural campaigners” are not rural people campaigning but townies campaigning for what they feel rurality ought to be.
    Happy new year to one and all 🙂

  6. What gareth says. This sounds like people who have made their money in cities wanting the countryside preserved for their own leisure, the inhabitants be damned. It’s domestic poverty tourism, similar to those who are afraid Cuba will be “ruined” once the population is freed.

  7. Why should your puerile preferences over ride theirs?

    That seems rather unnecessarily offensive and uncalled for.

    Surprisingly perhaps for some, it is quite normal for people who live in the countryside to seek to protect the countryside.

  8. Some of Britain’s best-loved landscapes are being threatened by the government’s rush to cover them with ugly bird mincers and pylons in a useless bid to save the fucking planet.

  9. I live in a very rural area, and it is a myth that development is opposed only by middle class visitors and Nimbys. Most of the local conflicts about land use arise between existing businesses and new ventures. Example: in one village, B&B owners (one a 3rd generation farmer who had diversified) and residents opposed the plans of another farmer to diversify into maggot production because of the odour and effluent problems. The planners refused planning permission for the maggotry on the proposed site, but did suggest other locations nearby. Result: maggotry in operation, and the B&B businesses are happy, too. So, in this instance at least planning and development controls worked well – and produced a better overall result than there would have been without them.

  10. “There is no natural wilderness”: balls. The flow country in Caithness, and much of the subarctic tundra in the higher parts of the Highlands, are natural wildernesses, or close to. And don’t give me any baloney about the Ancient Caledonian Forest being felled by Vikings – it’s bogus.

  11. Kevin B
    Agreed. Though don’t forget that the bird mincers can produce a mean bat smoothie, when the wind blows.

  12. Theo–quoting a few examples of something working right does not get around the fact that the “planners” are by and large a pack of useless cunts often composed of the very type of middle class London Bubble ( even if they don’t actually live in the Stink)we-know-best type trash other commentators are writing about.

  13. Ecksy

    Two points:
    1. It’s a myth that all or even most opposition to rural development is from middle class incomers who want thd countryside pickled in aspic.
    2. Planning needs far-reaching reform, but we could not live a civilised life in this crowded island without it, because amenities and landscapes (and their economic value) would be lost in a free-for-all and disputes about land use would escalate into conflict, litigation and even violence.

  14. Or must we wait for some friendly contagion to make things peaceable.

    Let’s hope it takes you first.

    Anyway, electricity pylons “destroy the landscape”, but taller and more obtrusive wind farms don’t, in some mysterious manner the article isn’t able to articulate.

  15. The Meissen Bison – “That seems rather unnecessarily offensive and uncalled for.”

    I don’t know. It is possible that it was. It is also possible that it was replying to someone in the same tone as that person was employing.

    “Surprisingly perhaps for some, it is quite normal for people who live in the countryside to seek to protect the countryside.”

    I am sure that is true. That does not change the facts. If you are going to destroy someone’s chances of improving their life, I would like to see some sort of reason. Not some vague feelings about Beatrix Potter or middle aged women cycling to Church. Personally I loathe much of the modern world and am probably the most fond of that nineteenth century impoverished rural life posting here. But I recognise that as selfish and cruel to the people I would personally like to condemn to a life time of poverty. I think other people ought to as well.

    So if someone has a dream of working their way out of poverty by, I don’t know, opening a B&B, why shouldn’t they? I know of a scheme to raise sturgeon, those well known polluters, that has hit planning problems. I mean, WTF? How can you object to fish next door?

  16. “not reducing the economic value of the existing historic landscapes and natural amenities. Which is why we in this small island need regulations on development.”

    I’m thinking back over the quarter century before I left the UK & how much of its historic landscapes & natural amenities I saw. Basically, bugger all.
    And of a period before that, when I lived in Britain’s historic landscapes with its natural amenities. And how I would have preferred rather less historic landscape Rather more industrial developments & a few more sprawling supermarket car parks. Couple decent night clubs would have been welcome too. Because, when it comes down to it, historic landscapes are fucking tedious places to live & their natural amenities mostly indiscernible.
    I get the feeling that’s the experience of most people. You hardly ever see them or you’re unfortunate enough to live in them & can’t wait to go somewhere decent.
    So what is the “economic value” to most of us? Few poorly paid jobs. They encourage tourists from abroad, I suppose. But if you’re not actually making a living off them, tourists are a fucking bane. Ask anyone who lives in Central London.
    So, I’d say, between zilch & bugger all. Few wealthy middle class people like to live in them whilst doing their best to ensure no-one else does. Enjoyably, anyway. Places to get lost in when you take the wrong turn-off on the motorway. ‘Bout it really.

  17. Theophrastus said:
    “don’t forget that the bird mincers can produce a mean bat smoothie”

    Fortunately only when the damned things are actually revolving, which isn’t very often.

  18. Theo, the maggot odour problem could have been dealt with by the law of nuisance. No public policy needed.

  19. “It’s a myth that all or even most opposition to rural development is from middle class incomers who want thd countryside pickled in aspic.”

    Its not a myth, given that people who are country born and bred are pretty thin on the ground in most rural areas. 90% of the populations of rural villages will be incomers, as the agricultural labour force has dwindled over the last 70 years to virtually nothing. In the 60s you couldn’t give dilapidated ex farm workers cottages away, now they’re worth hundreds of thousands. But they won’t have a country person living in them. By far the most vociferous opponents of any rural development are people who have moved their within a decade or so, often into houses whose development was opposed by previous incomers.

  20. “Revealed preferences” is one of the great phrases in economics. You can bet your house that tomorrow the Bristol-Bath cycleway and adjacent cafes will be rammed, and that Exmoor will be largely empty, as it usually is. This idea of ‘most-loved’ landscapes seems to be based on something not connected to what the public actually show their love for.

  21. At the start of the Government project to improve mobile coverage in rural areas we had a meeting with one of the senior planning officers for Cumbria and the Lake District. He told us about a site that was proposed some years ago. Everyone local was happy, the National Park authority approved the site and the MNO was happy to run it.

    All the objections they received were from outside the area, many as far away as Kent. I think we can assume they weren’t from the working class. Being a NP they had to listen to the objections and in the end it was turned down.

    Going back to the original article, the countryside isn’t being destroyed, some views are being changed. CPRE may not like that but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Anyway, as others have pointed out, there’s a bigger blight in the form of bird choppers.

  22. Edward Lud:
    Yes, with litigation, which would benefit lawyers like you.The local sugar beet factory’s odours are a public nuisance, and nothing has been done about it for 40 years. I concĺude prevention is better than cure. Moreover, with the maggotry, the other issues included effluent and visual impact on the view from the B&B.

    Jim
    “90% of the populations of rural villages will be incomers”. That’s not true in much of Suffolk and Norfolk. Yes, agricultural labourers are now few, but their descendants now run shops and services. I know people who have lived in the same village all their lives and have never been to Ipswich, Cambridge or Norwich.

    SMFS
    Village people can and often do move or commute to the local market town to get work. They can’t expect the jobs to come to them. Planning regulations should be more enterprise-friendly, but the idea that overall planners are stifling economic growth is wide of the mark.

    BiS

    I think most people would disagree with your view. The National Trust alone has 4.24m members and 60,000 volunteers. Historic buildings and landscapes are valued by many, many millions more. For many English people, they are part of what it means to be English.

    Moreover, many country folk in remoter villages are quite happy with a modest income (often based on tourism), no immigrants, a crime-free neighbourhood and close-knit community. The middle classes generally only want to live in villages from which they can commute to cities and professional jobs.

  23. Bongo

    Exmoor received 1.346m visitors in 2015. And, on a wet day in January, visitor numbers are bound to be very low, aren’t they?

    Far more people enjoy the countryside and the historic buildings than pursue almost any other leisure activity, except shopping (and that’s mainly women).

  24. “Exmoor will be largely empty, as it usually is”: empty by the standards of Southern England, I assume. Are you familiar with the ‘miles and miles of bugger all’ in northern Scotland? They often are empty.

  25. During the recession of the late 80s/early 90s there was a very successful factory making industrial extraction fans for tunnels and smelly work places just outside Colchester. They were so successful that they worked 24/7.

    Then some clown decided it would be a good idea to build a housing estate round it. Result can be guessed – residence complain about constant noise and lorries delivering and collecting leading to factory being put on restricted working hours which meant they couldn’t fulfill their order book. The factory closed and production moved to Switzerland.

  26. @Kevin B, January 1, 2017 at 11:19 am
    “Some of Britain’s best-loved landscapes are being threatened by the government’s rush to cover them with ugly bird mincers and pylons in a useless bid to save the f*cking planet.

    +1
    …and bio-digester gas plants, solar “farms” and all manner of other green lunacy.

  27. Theo
    ‘Exmoor received 1.346m visitors in 2015.’
    That is bull-shine. The NP promoters always throw around stats like that which mention ‘National Park and its vicinity’. They never tell you how many was the National Park itself.
    You can pull up the top-rated 60 things to do in Somerset and Devon on tripadvisor, and not a single one is inside the Exmoor NP boundary.

  28. Theo, believe it or not, it hadnt occurred to me that I might benefit. I was purely giving vent to my preference for voluntary private action over the one size fits all state knows best steamroller approach. But ok, I’ll bite. So lawyers will benefit. Rather than local authority panjandums. So what?

    I know about the odours from your sugar beet factory, I regularly drive past it. I agree they’re vile. I bet Silver Spoon has always had planning permission, though …

  29. Sell it to the Russians, Arabs, and Chinese of course. Plenty of service jobs for the Brits, win-win.

  30. Bloke in North Dorset – “Result can be guessed – residence complain about constant noise and lorries delivering and collecting leading to factory being put on restricted working hours which meant they couldn’t fulfill their order book.”

    The bane of a place I know is that people move out to the countryside for some fresh air and healthy country lifestyle. Then they begin complaining to the authorities because the tractors wake them up at 10 am. They object to the noise, the smells of country life. Restrictions are placed on where and when farmers can spray – so their fields shrink because they cannot spray too close to the border. They cannot operate machinery before 11.

  31. Bongo
    My wife worked for a tourism and leisure consultancy and she thinks the Exmoor figures are plausible and sound. And as for Tripadvisor, that’s a self-selecting and skewed sample. And, as I said, visiting the countryside and heritage attractions is the most popular leisure activity in the UK, after shopping.

    Edward Lud
    So lawyers will benefit. Rather than local authority panjandums. So what?
    Because the lawyers will benefit more than the planning clerks, and the legal route would be more costly than the public sector system for those opposing developments – which means it would be easy for developers to wear down opposition.

  32. EL

    Lawyers are more expensive than planning clerks. Even with on-costs, you can pay for a planner for a year for the cost of a barrister to represent you in a complex court case.

    If planning decisions were made mainly in the courts, anyone not eligible for legal aid would face hefty fees for representation, and this in turn would favour developers who have the resources for prolonged litigation.

    By the way, I’m not anti-lawyer. My daughter is one, as was her grandmother. Likewise my son-in-law. However, I am against courts and judges replacing the democratically supervised planning system – despite its many faults.

  33. Theo, you explain “the lawyers will benefit more than the planning clerks” by saying that “lawyers are more expensive than planning clerks”, by which I assume you mean they earn more, but even if that is always and everywhere true, and I am certain that by a long stretch it is not (the barrister example you provide begs so many questions that it has no illustrative value), it takes no account of the fact that lawyers are instructed on a case-by-case basis, so they are not paid if there is no work to do, they are not a fixed cost built into the budget year in year out with all the attendant pensions, HR, policies-on-this-and-that malarkey you get with that department on the fourth floor of the civic centre which has been there since 1956, and whose staff numbers have never, ever dropped below what they were in 1956.

    So on that basis, allied to my oft-observed experience that the private route is usually less costly than the public (although I accept that, too, begs some questions – e.g. costly to whom? – which I as a libertarian will not agree with you as a conservative about), I’d need a lot more data to go on before concluding that the state’s standing corps of planning officers is cheaper than would have been occasional use of lawyers. But that in itself would be a difficult, bordering on impossible, counterfactual exercise.

    And actually, I’m not sure it matters – we’re not going to agree. As a libertarian, I care more about liberty than I do about cost.

    Incidentally, I also don’t agree with the broadbrush statement that developers have more resources than residents? What, always? I doubt it. They’re not all Persimmon Homes, and residents can club together to fund representation (indeed, I have been paid on such a basis).

    Finally, you say, “I am against courts and judges replacing the democratically supervised planning system”. Now hold on. There is already judicial supervision of planning decisions, which must be made according to law, so in that sense nothing would change. Second, once a planning authority has a Plan in place, that tends to be that – change your councillors though you will. Third, are courts and judges not democratically supervised?

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