The Arc is dead, but beware of the PaRP

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is dead but, like any good horror-movie monster, it refuses to stay dead. Although the Arc was finally killed off last year, for very good reasons, it has recently re-emerged as the “Oxford to Cambridge Pan-Regional Partnership”. It’s complete with the same old slew of secrecy, millions of pounds of public money to waste on consultants, unsustainable […]

It’s politics, but not as we know it

People are saying it – our politics are getting stranger all the time. One of the many attractive features of the Smart Growth philosophy has always been its ability to attract support from thoughtful people across the political spectrum. Now it looks increasingly as if the need to rise beyond the hurly-burly of party politics is getting more urgent. To […]

HS2: The time for simple binary decision-making is past- it needs an independent review

Unless the Chancellor has something up his sleeve for next Wednesday’s Budget, it looks as the Government is “deferring” a lot of big spending on HS2 for at least a couple more years. To judge from the Transport Secretary’s statement, some big decisions have also been deferred, presumably until after the next general election. This would, therefore, seem an opportune […]

Frameworks and functions

The Royal Society report Multifunctional Landscapes – Informing a Long-Term Vision for Managing the UK’s Land poses some important questions. There is much to admire in it. Its admirably concise Executive Summary – just four paragraphs to introduce a 66-page report – includes a statement that should be tattooed on everybody in Whitehall and the devolved administrations. And held up […]

The road to ruin

When I heard that the Commons Transport Committee is launching a new inquiry into the Government’s plans for investing in major roads and motorways in England, I thought here was a Christmas present that could go on giving. Unfortunately I was wrong. In the Committee’s announcement of the inquiry, it says it was prompted by the way the current Road […]

Democracy – and worse

“Democracy is the worst form of government,” said Winston Churchill. “Except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.” Watching the march of dictatorship around the world, one can only echo Churchill’s words. He certainly knew a thing or two about democracy – and the alternatives – but he also understood the necessities of getting elected. […]

The tail wags the dog

Apparently out of the blue, a company called PhotoVolt Development Partners (PVDP) has proposed a 1,400 hectare “Botley West Solar Farm” in Oxfordshire, covering three separate sites. This ambitious proposal, which claims to be able to generate enough electricity to power 330,000 homes (roughly the number in Oxfordshire, existing and planned) raises some interesting issues. At a time of climate […]

A huge failure of the imagination

It’s been said many times before, but there is something bizarrely perverse about persisting in the construction of new major roads in a country like ours with limited space and fiercely competing demands on land use. Over 50 years ago, the American writer Wendell Berry summed up the impact of road-building, when he described the differences between a path and […]

HS2 needs to be paused for an independent review

As the Government’s Autmn Statement comes nearer, HS2 fans and opponents are watching closely to see what the Government does. Will it let the truncated but still eye-wateringly expensive remains continue as now? Will further surgery remove bits, or even the whole lot north of Birimingham? Will it scrap the lot, leaving a swathe of destruction and part-completed civil engineering […]