Green belt blues

Well, you live and learn. Did you know that, although around 12.4% of England is designated as green belt, it’s mostly poor quality scrubland? Did you know that building on green belt land is only unpopular thanks to a misconception that it involves concreting over the countryside? Did you know the Government has no desire to build more homes? That, […]

Emergency? What emergency?

We’re living in a time of emergencies – national and international – but you really wouldn’t think so from the way we’re going on. Now, accuse me of opportunism to pick a day like today to talk about emergencies if you like, but when would be a good time to talk about them given that they aren’t going to go […]

Brownfield-first just won’t go away

If vested interests are still attacking an environmental policy 10 years after it was abolished, you can be fairly sure it’s on the way back, whether they like it or not. I was struck by this thought when I read the new report from the Land Promoters and Developers Federation entitled Banking on Brownfield. And in case you’d like to […]

Urgent health warning!

This warning is being issued to alert the public to an acute and potentially lethal case of Easter Island Syndrome that has been identified at the Planning Inspectorate. For those of you unaware of the symptoms of Easter Island Syndrome, it involves the myopic rubber-stamping of activities and policies which, in combination and unless reversed, lead to environmental catastrophe and […]

A property renting democracy?

Home ownership has long been a central issue in British politics. Only the other day prime minister Boris Johnson said it is overwhelmingly what people in this country want. “It’s good for society, great for the economy, it drives jobs and growth,” he tweeted. “That’s why we’re supporting it.” Fair enough, it’s something his party has long been committed to. […]

HS2: route and branches review needed

When people argue something is so good it’s pretty well perfect, and then it gets radically altered and they still say it’s perfect, then it’s time for some big questions. With the threat of catastrophic climate change getting ever nearer, the need to address the UK’s most greenhouse gas (GHG) intensive sector – transport – grows ever more urgent. Yet […]

A change of track

Few people in Leicester these days know the city long ago had three mainline railway stations, including a very grandiose terminus. The old Belgrave Road station opened in 1883 and, back in the day, Leicester folk used to begin their trips to East Coast holiday resorts at the station. But the station’s promoters had got their ideas badly wrong. It […]

The road not taken

“All times are times of transition,” wrote Flora Thompson in the late 1930s, recalling her childhood of the 1880s. I have been reading her well-known book, Lark Rise to Candleford, for the first time, having previously been mildly put off it by what I remember of a likeable but rather sentimentalised adaptation by the BBC. The book itself, with its […]

Food security matters

“Keep calm and carry on” is a much misquoted slogan from the Second World War, but it reminds us how rapidly things can change. It’s just a fortnight since Russia launched its deadly military assault on Ukraine. Already thousands have died and cities are being reduced to rubble. Here, everyday life goes on, but most people realise that things are […]

The day the world changed

When historians come to write the history of our times, 24 February 2022 may well be remembered as the day the World changed. We have no idea yet where the horror in Ukraine will lead, but we can be sure things will be different. Amidst the tragedy, a few are clinging to the old myths about fossil fuel powered growth. […]