Dark days ahead

One of the most tiresome and inaccurate things to be told during a crisis is that: “It’s always darkest before the dawn”.

As we slowly, and hopefully, emerge from the pandemic, Sir David Attenborough recently reminded us that, horrific as Sars-Cov-2 has been, the coming climate and biodiversity crises will be worse still unless we take very swift action.

So it was with dismay that people (across the political spectrum) who care about the environment heard the news in the Queen’s Speech that the Government is to press ahead with its ruinous planning proposals for England.

This is not a case of party political opposition. It was, for instance, Theresa May who reminded us that the Bill would put the “wrong homes in the wrong places”.

Of course, as one interested party recently reminded me, we don’t yet have details of what the Bill will say on housing targets, designation of growth areas or automatic approval of developments.

But the fact it’s no secret those things are intended should be sufficient to make everyone, whatever their politics, get together and oppose this destructive legislation.

How that campaign develops will emerge in the weeks to come, but it’s essential that it involves our national and local politicians, be they Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat or Green. Or indeed the growing number of independent councillors elected on a ticket of pursuing more sustainable forms of development.

This is no time for party politics to get in the way of protecting the environment.

Local people too have a responsibility to make their voices heard. A very positive development in recent weeks has been the setting up of the Community Planning Alliance to challenge destructive development at the grass roots level.

Sprawl, once built, doesn’t only seal soil, increase air, noise and light pollution, disturb nature, overload the water environment and increase transport carbon emissions in the short term. It potentially does so for hundreds of years.

So let’s reject bogus claims to be building homes for young people to buy. The high percentage of new market homes going to build-to-rent or buy-to-rent demonstrates the falsity of that. Whatever this is about, it isn’t about an objective approach to housing need.

We have a responsibility to future generations as well as to our own to take action now and tell the little cabal in Government and their cheer leaders in the development industry that enough is enough.

Otherwise it won’t be a case of “darkest before the dawn”, it’ll be “darkness at noon”.