In the Thames basin it seems that the implications of new building development have at last sunk in. The Independent says:
All plans for new housebuilding have been frozen over a massive area of the Home Counties to protect three species of rare birds in the most remarkable clash yet between environment and development in Britain. Concerns about the welfare of the nightjar, the woodlark and the Dartford warbler have halted schemes for building thousands of homes over an expanse of nearly 300 square miles, stretching from the M25, west of London, almost to Reading.
A Dartford Warbler
The 11 local councils concerned, following legal advice, are now refusing every housing application for the area. Predictably enough, this has caused some anguish in one particular group of people, perhaps one not used to having to justify itself. However, the Ranger could find no reports of the distressed residents of Reading taking to the streets demanding new homes, nor were householders in Crowthorne, Berkshire, chaining themselves to lamp-posts for the right to own cats. in fact, the only complaint to be found online was from a pro-UKIP blog, predictably facing down the eurocrats who forced this cruel legislation on our hard-pressed local, English, councils. So, unable to ride on a wave of popular support, the Thames Valley New Homes coalition has been formed to represent the hard pressed local builders hit by the ban. They have spoken out to explain their concerns – the coalition’s spokesman, Rory Scanlan, said:
It is not an exaggeration to say the freeze is having a devastating effect on their businesses. The turnover of one is down by 40 per cent and he has had to let 40 per cent of his staff go. No one for a moment objects to having controls on building near environmentally sensitive sites, but the issue is English Nature’s interpretation of the regulations…
Building on a heathland
One can sympathise with those out of a job. But it can’t be terribly hard to find work building houses in Berkshire. Whereas once gone, ancient heathland habitat is, well, gone. And it won’t come back. This debate is a symptom of a problem that faces the whole of the world, and its almost universal aspirations for economic growth. The problem is this: sustainability. To some people, the term ‘sustainable development’ means ‘continuous development’. They are mistaken. The Dartford Warbler problem in Berkshire is one which shows the real nature of this issue. Sustainable development means this: one day, without a doubt, we’re going to have to stop doing it the way we do now. The only question we must ask ourselves is do we stop before we destroy the natural resources and beauty of our landscape; or can we find a way to regenenerate our economies and environment which does not rely upon unsustainable growth?
Houses built on heathland in Dorset. Was it really worth it?