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 […]

Red lines, green lines

I was interested to hear this morning’s reports that the Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and National Trust are saying they could urge their millions of members “to take to the streets in demonstrations” over the Government’s attack on nature. It strongly takes me back to 2011-12, at a time England was threatened with having its planning guidance scrapped and replaced with […]

Time to work together

Much of the country is still reeling from Friday’s not-really-a-budget which also launched a disastrously unsustainable growth plan and an even bigger deficit on the nation. Nature conservation bodies, with their vast memberships, were quick off the mark expressing their surprise and anger and it’s great to see them returning to the fight. There are threats in all of this […]

Yes, It Maximises Builders’ Yields

It’s sometimes said the most effective conspiracies are those where all involved know what they need to do so well, they don’t actually need to conspire. I’m beginning to feel something of the sort is going on with the “yimby” movement, much of which has degenerated pretty much into a media campaign in support of the building and development industries […]

Crying all the way to the (land) bank

If the Government really was hoping the volume house builders would come to their aid, actually build-out the many homes for which they enjoy planning consent and deliver the promised 300,000 new-build homes a year, they are in for a nasty shock. It looks as if the approaching recession has forced builders back into land-banking mode. Much ink has been […]