“Oooo Money that’s…whaddiwant”

The Prime Minister misled the country at Conference – for the same reason as always – the wellbeing of the Conservative Party.

As regular Sloggers know, this site primarily exists to deconstruct bollocks, without favour for any of the 600 odd dissemblers at Westminster. Some bollocks is emitted through lack of common sense and/or sheer incompetence. But most of it exists to mislead – and almost always with the use of statistics. It is not true to say there are lies, damned lies and statistics: there are actually liars, damned liars, and politicians let loose to ‘interpret’ statistics.

As regards land use in the UK, David Cameron has misled us all using bollocks. Today, The Slog explains how, and why.

I’ll begin by stating simply that when the Prime Minister told the Conservative conference  recently, “Remember, only 9% of England is built up”, my immediate reaction was “That must be wrong”. Others elsewhere have already blogged to the effect that this is the UK figure, not the English one, and that nearer to 20% of England’s land is built up.

However, Slog research shows that David Cameron’s statistical innumeracy goes well beyond incompetence.

For starters, based on data in the UK Census, urban land use represented about 9 per cent of the UK’s total land area in 2001. In the decade since, unless there’s been a great deal of secret demolition at night, that figure will have increased further….partly thanks to Labour’s Open Door immigration policy.

Here’s how we can be sure about that: at the Dwellings built by previous use site, it shows that in 2009 alone, 2,140 hectares of land changed from greenfield to dwellings. The same site also shows that 1 in 5 houses built in 2010 used formerly agricultural land….whereas precisely the same percentage replaced existing dwellings. The total area of rural land lost to urban use between 1945-2004 was 720,000 hectares – an area the size of Greater London, Berkshire, Herefordshire and Oxfordshire combined.

But land lost to ‘built up’ use is also misleading: the fasting growing sector of housing development in the UK is the addition of ‘land envelopes’ to small villages….none of which come under the definition of ‘built up’.


Partly because of these realities (using their brains for once, and under pressure from rural campaigners) Labour tightened up the planning rules considerably. Thus during both 2008 and 2009, the amount of land use change from rural to dwellings halved. This meant, further, that such a restricted availability sent the price of permissioned land shooting up – by a whopping 15.5%. This Rise in farmland value in the face of lower supply can be viewed at the UK Land Directory.

For the UK housing development sector, of course, that was a double nightmare. And so around this time, various construction consortiums began making large contributions to Conservative Party election funds….a total of some £3.5M in all.

The Prime Minister’s crime here is twofold: first, taking one statistic, and applying it during a nationally televised address – although it used the wrong definition, the wrong year and the wrong area. The figures I present above offer an entirely different picture. And second, Cameron once again spectacularly fails to miss the point about land capable of producing food must come before housing for the buggers who eat it.

A technique often used to rubbish the idea of more support for farming (by those who deny that Britain could become food self-sufficient) is to say that ‘most’ so-called rural land is not suitable for crops – and that’s true: 40% of Britain is woodland. In fact, largely due to overclaiming by various Green groups about climatic damage, there is now more treed land in Britain than existed in 1000 AD.

But 40% is not ‘most’. And further, while 75% of UK land is deemed agricultural, only 23% of this is actively used for crops. According to The Prince’s Fund, Britain produces just 41% of the food it eats. Again – as I’ve boffed on endlessly about before – UK agriculture is in woeful decline because prices have been screwed into the ground, and foods imported more and more in the drive towards unrealistically cheap sustenance. Both these developments can be laid squarely at two doors: multiple supermarkets, and the Common Agricultural Policy. So then, Dave, time perhaps at least to stop giving ridiculously easy permissions to Tescopoly, and start getting us out of the EU?

I suppose one could also call such obvious lack of vision a crime too. But there is a fourth crime that overrides all others put together in my mind, and it is this: the Prime Minister lied to the Nation in order to further the cause of an anti-social interest group: property developers. He did this, one must assume, because he feels more in common with them than struggling farmers, and because they gave his Party a shedload of money.

This is no different at all to giving in to, and then lying about, his cronies at Newscorp in return for huge media support for his Party.

It is no different at all to being gutless about the EU’s encroachments and meltdown, because he fears another split in his Party.

And it is no different at all to sticking his bum in the air every time the banks get uppity, because he fears they can (and would) ruin the Coalition recovery policy in order to get their own way.

David Cameron is a man who thinks of the money first, and what’s right for Britain second. And as anyone who has ever built a business will tell you, once you start putting money before quality and culture, you’re running scared from them on. My watchword in business was always very simple: do better than the competition, and the money will follow. The Prime Minister needs to give that fundamental principle some thought. And soon.







  1. Every Tory land owner will have their ears cocked –

    People are splitting their large back gardens up for infill- trouble is that homes are so squashed in- that there are now parking slot allocations! Yep in a rural setting where most couples are a two/three car family- grown up kids are still at home.

    Every one is profiteering, no matter whether it is your chimney sweep, tree feller, roofer etc etc.

    Many people are making shedloads of money – I wish I knew how they did it , because everything we have has a diminishing return!


  2. Re food production.

    Today I went shopping for a few things.

    King Edward Potatoes
    Spring onions
    Bread flour

    Everything I bought was British. I did not even have to be selective to achieve this.

    I was shopping in Lidl, a German owned supermarket.
    They put our “home grown” chains to shame.


  3. A major problem with everything in the UK is the apparent way that the solution to each problem is taken individually rather than several together
    Anerobic Digestion (AD) of Municipal Solid Waste (weekly bin collections) could reduce / remove / divert material from land fill, produce a viable alternative to gas that presently comes ever more as imports, and the resulting digestate could be an alternative to crude oil based fertilizer to improve soil quality to grow the ever increasing food needs

    the Carbon Dioxide that is also produced could be used within “Poly tunnels” to improve the growth rate of plants

    If really serious this process could expand to cover Sewage and animal slurry, the disposal of both of which creates a lot of paperwork (and expense) for such as the Environment Agency

    Joined up thinking and Common Sense ~I know it will never happen!!!


  4. Irrespective of the shenanigans of planning controls et al, how did Britain get into the situation where we need to endlessly build additional housing?


  5. G’day. It’s quite simple, which is lucky as I am a simple soul. People who do not live in the countryside are ignorant of one very fundamental principle. Let me walk you through it. Britain is a green and pleasant land with rolling green fields and nice hedgerows. This is because the land is cultivated. Cultivated land is farm land. Farming is a lifestyle choice first and a business second. Farms produce food. People need food to survive. If there was no farming in the UK the land would not magically revert to woodland. It would revert to brambles, gorse, ragwort, nettles and other weeds. Long after anyone alive now has died the land might eventually be returned to ‘nature’. While ‘Nature’ is nice to look at, you cannot eat it. The sooner Dave and politico’s of any hue realise the green and pleasant land they drive or train through on their way to and from their party conferences only looks like it does because some poor bugger they hate is busting an underpaid gut trying to make a living from it, the better off we will all be. Thats a long sentence! I also have an issue with people who despoil the landscape. I have ranted about it on my blog today, join in the indignation. As we say in NZ, On ya.


  6. There is no shortage in this country of landfill sites. Any methane gas produced in a land fill site is contained and sold off to the gas companies.

    Because of the landfill tax and other EU initiatives waste management in this country has become more expensive and a lot worse. It is the usual one size fits all and everything centrally controlled.


  7. @Richard G “Joined up thinking and Common Sense ~ I know it will never happen!!!” How true, these qualities are woefully lacking in the current and previous governments. Despite a record number of advisors, under-secretaries and research assistants, they seem incapable of applying logic and common sense solutions for the majority of the population. Unfortunately, they lack the motivation to concentrate their energies to address the everyday problems of the common man, and the overall good of the country. They’re far too busy, quite blatantly, keeping their eyes on the ‘main chance’ for their lobbyists, contributors and ‘chums’.


  8. Defining “built up” is a dangerous game at best.

    I own a 20x100ft plot of land., roughly, the first 10×20 is my front garden, the next 20×20 is my house, the following 20×70 if my back garden.
    How much is “built upon”, all of it? None of it? 20% of it?

    Consider, before the houses were built, it was sheep pasture.
    Now, the houses and gardens provide a biodynamic wonderland home to countless plants, insects, animals and birds.

    Food production?
    I beat you there as well.
    My garden isnt devoted to crops, although I have three cherry trees and around 20 berry and currant plants strategicaly placed, but a bottle of round up would wipe out my lawn, and two or three weeks after application, I have 1200sqft of growing space and 4 chickens.
    I can squeeze more calories out of that space than sheep ever could.
    In a world war 2 starvation prevention measure of course.

    The other reason UK farming is so weak, is it ruinously ineffcient.
    Many years ago, I was looking at investing in a company that wanted to farm Russia.
    They were loooking at buying something like 30,000 hectares of currently abanded land, and farming. Eventualy, I didnt, because I was concerned about both direct seizure of the land and the equipment, or indirect seizure through export restrictions forcing low selling prices for the products.

    30,000 hectares, one farm.
    Do you know what the average sized farm in the UK is?
    Me, no idea, but its rare to see them for sale over 1000 acres, unless its sheep moor in Scotland. Most are more like 200 acres.

    CAP keep these daft little farms just above failure, and prevents a reorganisation of the farming sector into something viable.

    Like it or not, wheat is a bulk product, not an artisan product.
    You might be able to manage a small farm making speciality wheats for a select market, but 99% of the populace want cheap bread.
    I think its great that I can buy bonless lambs breast for £4.19kg, and the two of u can have a 500g roast and it it all, not spread it out over a week.


  9. “If there was no farming in the UK the land would not magically revert to woodland. It would revert to brambles, gorse, ragwort, nettles and other weeds”

    And then it would turn into scrub land which in turn would become woodland as the pioneering fast growing tree species moved in thus creating the ideal environment for the broadleaved canopies of old England. Within a human generation brown land/farm land/common land can easily become woodland if left to its own devices.

    The real problem is, as Richard G states, the way in which the political mind can only deal with one issue in isolation. I need land to build a family home on. I need an acre so my family can become self sufficient in vegetables year round and fruit for six months of the year along with some ‘open space’ to enjoy whenever the fancy takes me. I can get that land under the current restrictive regime but I cannot ‘develop’ it. I doubt it’ll get any better under the Cammermongs changes.


  10. Indeed

    Not to mention, the reason all farms dont already have gobar gas generators is because the bloody government wont let them!


  11. I expect your fresh British produce was hidden amongst the bicycle tyre puncture repair kits, pyjama sets, umbrellas and handy carwash packs.

    Lidl are like some Eastern European supermarkets- wreaking of rubber , smoked bacon and grotty cabbages.


  12. Raging Tory. average farm in UK is actually about 120 acres if you factor out Scotland (which increases it to 150) The average european farm is 50 acres. Thats not a farm, thats a small holding!!


  13. @Bill
    ” I need land to build a family home on. I need an acre so my family can become self sufficient in vegetables year round and fruit for six months of the year along with some ‘open space’ to enjoy whenever the fancy takes me. I can get that land under the current restrictive regime but I cannot ‘develop’ it. I doubt it’ll get any better under the Cammermongs changes.”

    You’ve just summed up why I came to France, for exactly that. The house was already on it complete with barn, all it needed was complete renovation, I do mean complete, but that’s half the fun.


  14. I didnt realise it was quite that bad, but it sort of shows the level of the problem.
    It would be like trying to build Ford Fiestas in a home garage as a cottage industry.


  15. sandysview

    You will have a hard job selling that view to an average UK urban dweller – they all think that milk is made in a factory.

    Many a year ago I had a long argument with a ‘greeny’ about the Norfolk Broads. She maintained that if we could get the polluting mankind out of the way, it would develop into a marvellous ecosystem and be like it was a hundred years ago. When I pointed out that the Broads were a result of rush farming and maintenance as a navigation system (dredging) she told me that I was barmy. I don’t know how many nut-cases you have in NZ, but we have thousands here and they have a lot of influence.


  16. perhaps they don’t want to have joined up thinking as there would be less need for advisors and thus a blurring of where any lobbying came from


  17. “brownfield” in planning terms would include the garden as it has been developed from the original state of the land


  18. John,

    It is inevitable that there will be a relaxation of planning. There are two obvious reasons.

    1 The UK has a housing shortage.
    2 Engineering a construction boom would have large positive effects on growth and tax revenues.

    There are obvious pitfalls-where the building takes place and the distribution of windfalls.

    But in principle, it is a good policy.

    There will also be a mass sell-off of prime NHS sites and rebuild outside of Central London. Again, this is good in principle, but has obvious pitfalls.


  19. Well you have a mummy, and a daddy, and they decide they love each other verry much, and then suddenly, you have a mummy, a daddy, and two point four children.
    The mummy and daddy grow up and die, one kid stays, the other gets booted next door, and next door swap on of theirs.
    But that still leaves .8 of a person with no where to live.
    Do that with 6 kid families and it gets big fast.

    Add in the mummy getting bored of the daddy and throwing him out, and the daddy repeating the “love very much” stage with multiple mummys, and well…..


  20. Morvan, Luckily in NZ most people fully support the farming industry. I will tell you a true story and I know it is true because I was there. A group of London kids visited a farm in West Sussex recently. Upon discovering where milk came from, a couple of them were almost physically ill. They vowed they would never touch the stuff again. You do wonder!


  21. True, but irrelevent.
    Cam said “built up” not brown field.

    I have a large garden compared to my house, but even if the average is 50% house 50% garden, its turns the 493square miles of greater manchester from built up to fairly green.
    And thats an extremely densely built on city.

    Not a fan of Cam, but in this, he is actualy quite correct.
    Labours planning reforms made the situation worse, because they effectivly outlawed gardens by setting a minimum number of houses per acre.


  22. Well said. There is too much nimbyisms in the replies to this post.

    The planning system may have been started with good intent but, as usual, it has become ossified and managed by negative bureaucrats. Vested interests have taken over resulting in an an artificially created land shortage that has led to ever higher prices for smaller and smaller houses, to the point that my Japanese friends now laugh at the rabbit hutches we are forced to live in. And the great somnulent unwashed take it on the chin – mustn’t grumble – and soldier on.

    Time to try something different and time for more people to live in apartments. But first you have to build ones suitable for families not just bedsits.


  23. “…time for more people to live in apartments. But first you have to build ones suitable for families not just bedsits.”

    First, the government has to outlaw ‘Leasehold’. Buying an apartment should be equal to buying a share in a freehold property.
    Second, builders have to shed the idea that apartments are second class homes built of cheap/sub-standard materials.


  24. As far as I can tell builders only ever use cheap materials. I cannot see much that has been built recently being around in a hundred years.


  25. Kit
    I’m not sure I’d argue thats a bad thing.
    Compare a 100 year old house to whats possible today
    Insualtion, space, damp.

    Mines 60 years old and has a bloody cold room!
    Not to mention a (contained) damp problem.
    If building control wasnt such an arse, come April when I’m redundant, I’m not the damned thing down and rebuild it.
    I cant even reroof without planning permission, so have to go through the charade of reroofing in stages so I can call it “repairing”.


  26. Yes exactly. The planning system is now there only for the benefit of the planners and the large developers (who get pretty much what they want-including limited supply to keep prices up!).

    With regard to apartments, again I entirely agree but this won’t happen because of the mindset against it.

    Bankrupt Taxpayer-leasehold can’t just be abolished because there has to be a document setting out the rights and responsibilities of the parties in a block of flats-that is the lease. There is nothing wrong with a lease if the term is long enough and the freehold belongs to the leaseholders-in fact long leases are called “virtual freeholds” because thats effectively what they are. If there is a good landlord there is no problem with any lease-structure is maintained, painting done etc.-there is now legislation to ensure landlords don’t rip the leaseholders off.


  27. “There is too much nimbyisms in the replies to this post”.


    Hurl a label and damn the argument?

    What the contributors here seem to want is some semblance of sense, planning, cohesion and consistency. What they have experienced doesn’t qualify I would suggest.


  28. Over 4 million homes were built in the UK between the wars, creating a construction boom and economic activity. Whitehall wants the same now and has been cosying up to housebuilders for the last couple of years. There is a demand for this housing as the population has ballooned (immigration, divorced households requiring two houses, increased longevity etc). Instead of being straight about this, Cameron’s instinct (and Whitehall’s) is to deceive. We talk about multiculturalism, but Cameron just continues the high handed governing manner of the Norman invasion. What hope has multi-cultralism got when the Normans haven’t integrated after 1000 years?


  29. BT at 12.09

    Agree quality of apartments build here is shite. Just compare with those built in Asia. Quality materials and design. Many apartments on two levels so it feels like living a house. And yes, leasehold is a bloody abomination although that problem is markedly less so now, especially outide London and the Duke of Westminster’s domain.

    My point is the status quo is unacceptable. There must be change otherwise more of the brightest and best of the young will emigrate again. If that happens the IQ of the country will sink further into the fetid, swamp ridden slime as the benefit seeking underclass becomes a larger and larger prportion of the whole .


  30. Open door to non-Europeans while end-of-life for Ethnic British nations.
    So why do you still name the Camerlots “Tories” & “Conservative”?
    – they are Moorish invaders in broad daylight.


  31. Just compare the build quality of an early 20th century mansion flat in Kensington or Victoria (if you can find one that has not been sub-divided into hutch like bedsits) with the hastily built and yet still expensive average docklands flat. Except that there is no comparison.

    The docklands ones will either fall down or be the slums of the future. Despite BT’s view expressed earlier regarding old properties, the mansion flats will last a lot longer.


  32. AD is part of the revised “Waste Policy” and from a few days ago has been granted availability of Feed in Tarrifs (FIT’s) for new projects from end of September so it is coming


  33. @TRT
    Gardens as brownfields is I’m afraid relevent and especially when dwelling density comes into place.
    Close to me in a rural VILLAGE planning permission was granted for several houses and flats in what are presently the long back gardens of exixting houses and which back onto a reasonably busy railway line. (On hold presently due to developer having money problems)


  34. Is it taken that the houses the developers want to build are the same as those which the demographic nature of the poulation needs

    Is there any certanty that the more expensive infrastructure that any significant housing development requires will also be included (water, sewage, public transport etc)

    Is there any certanty that there won’t be even more Dale Farm style stand offs over blatant disregard

    Most of all there is much made of allowing SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT yet the is no (not in the consultation nor the relevent department website) proper definition of SUSTAINABLE


  35. not usually cynical, i thought that Cameron’s hyping up of planning changes to allow greenfield development anywhere was more a pre-emptive attempt to increase wealthy landowners’ portfolios, prior to the neutering of CAP subsidies?

    the land directory website you pointed to, John, is typical of those “opportunity” sites that are part and parcel of encouraging another asset price inflation bubble. Have you seen the increase in land value per acre in Devon, for example? Prime stock-broker “investment” opportunities abound, where up in the grim north, values are going down, down, down.

    And what of cleaning up contaminated land? Without the previous requirement for developers to choose brownfield over greenfield sites, will our polluted sites ever be brought back into practical use, if incentives for their redevelopment are abandoned?

    Urban redevelopment is far more cost effective and efficient for the economic stability of future society, especially in a world of rising oil prices and peak oil supply tail-off. Running two or three cars in a rural setting will ultimately prove economically myopic.

    still, if Lord bangmearse et all suddely find their estates worth more chopped up and sold off for developer “eco-hamlets” – who will argue with that? certainly not the landed elite…


  36. Quite so. But you forgot to mention that Britain now has an estimated population approaching 70 million, due to uncontrolled immigration of cultures that breed faster than the indigenous population.


  37. @Kit: True …unless you’re having a duck pond installed or refurbishing Westminster or any other building being paid for by the taxpayer. Then you employ skilled craftsmen and use the best materials.


  38. “Is it taken that the houses the developers want to build are the same as those which the demographic nature of the poulation needs”

    Houses built are decreed by government policey, not the house builder…..


  39. Unless it is a listed building then re-roofing would seem to be a permiited development under Class C of Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the Permitted Development Regs (providing you are not raising the height of the roof nor increasing the size of the building envelope


  40. @MickC:
    “leasehold can’t just be abolished because there has to be a document setting out the rights and responsibilities of the parties in a block of flats-that is the lease.”

    No problem. Freehold apartment blocks also have these documents. The difference is that the contents are decided by the owners and can be added to/amended by them.
    If the owners want to do their own management, fine. If they want to engage a firm of managing agents, that’s also fine. It’s their choice.
    Under Leasehold, they don’t get the choice.

    “There is nothing wrong with a lease if the term is long enough and the freehold belongs to the leaseholders”

    That’s essentially what I was saying.

    “If there is a good landlord there is no problem with any lease-structure is maintained, painting done etc.-there is now legislation to ensure landlords don’t rip the leaseholders off.”

    There are few good property management companies around. Most are estate agents or other people in the property business and they have no loyalty to the owners of apartments. They are mostly expensive, collect back-handers and rarely maintain the apartment block to a standard acceptable to the Leaseholders. When it comes to communal redecorations, they rarely discuss the matter with the Leaseholders as to colours, quality of work etc etc. I know of no managing agent who is not seen as an expensive and complete PITA by the Leaseholders.

    Prescott tried to sort out this mess but came up against strong resistance from the big landlords, so softened his new laws.


  41. I expressed a view about old properties?…I think you mean TRT!

    But I agree with you about some of the mansion blocks in the areas of Kensington/Chelsea/Victoria and also around Sloane Square. Many now cost a small fortune and are bought up by rich Arabs et al.


  42. OAH
    If I can just step into this focus group for a second, it seems to have passed you all by that the whole point of this piece was to show (a) Cameron lied on national telly in 3 ways at once; and (b) he did it for the princely sum of £3.5M…rather than do the right thing – and hand farming some seed money to beef up its output.
    As he’s the f**king PM, this kind of bothers me a little, but clearly I’m alone in this prissy view of the world.
    But while we’re wallowing in ‘common sense’ here, can I just give you another stat? 45% of ALL new builds from 2008-2011 were on derelict industrial sites. It’s just that the ROI on a view of the gasworks isn’t quite as good as the one overlooking Poole…hence the desire of Dave’s construction donors to plough up and pave over perfectly good arable land.


  43. Monsieur ResteCalme
    Excellent post, and very much to my point. Cameron says we can all have petitions about the EU and force debates; but then he – just one, privileged, overpaid and underbrained Eton prick – can order his troops to shoot down anyone who votes for it.
    Only brass-neck, wah-wahs would have the audacity to try and pull that one.


  44. @JW
    “As he’s the f**king PM, this kind of bothers me a little, but clearly I’m alone in this prissy view of the world”

    No you are not JW, but what, with respect, is new. He’s lied about a lot of things, that;’s what he does. If, repeat if, he was alone, that would be remarkable. He isn’t, that it seems is what our PM’s do.

    I’m probably missing something, but I thought that was the starting position.


  45. A few years ago a pesticides plant closed outside the village I lived in at the time. AstraZeneca were paying for the large site to be decontaminated after almost a hundred years of chemical manufacture at the site. This was part of the conditions for sale of the site to St Modwen, who specialise in brownfield development.

    There was an open day for locals to see the decontamination works and have the processes explained. Believe it or not it was one of the most interesting days I have had!


  46. @JW
    As he’s the f**king PM, this kind of bothers me a little, but clearly I’m alone in this prissy view of the world.

    The problem is not that he lied but why he feels it necessary to do so and why perhaps more importantly NOBODY (including other politicians) if they had even realised the fact seems to be little concerned that he had done so


  47. Funny, Our village had some spare land alongside a railway line -which was refused then went to appeal and was then built on!

    Cameron is a shouty twerp, how can he dictate the way he does.
    Soon , he will probably expect the public to doff their caps as he walks by.
    He is acting like a bleeding Emperor. The sheeplings will always baaa and nod and run after him.
    Does he have the ear and attention of her Majesty by the way. We should all be fearful of his tyrannical mutterings.
    His cavalier tone is not on.

    Brown field land has failed to attract any investment re office/ small industry use- Who on earth would want to relocate to the middle of a rural setting where the roads are really hopeless- although there is a fast rail link.

    The brown field land is now probably going to be targeted as a possible site for hundreds of homes!
    The last experiment like this was that land was sold by a big landowner to a well known national builder- homes were built- but no one really wanted to spend huge sums of money on homes that were next door to allocated social housing and all the attendant problems that housing like this attracted.


  48. Do me a favour, join up my dots that no one has mentioned in 9 hours and 59 comments.

    Mortgage availability
    Brownfield and Health and Safety
    Industrial premises rental yields

    And all we can talk about is …”housing…”
    No wonder this country is endlessly talking like a Womens Institute at tea time.
    Who wears the trousers in your house?


  49. Kit
    well done! At least someone is thinking of the British farmers.

    We grew a lot of our own, whilst it was hard, it saved us a little money. The unexpected upside was two kids who cleared their plate of all the veggies before anything else. Why? because it tasted good.


  50. @Richard G
    There was a study done in the 1940s in the US where a team took *all* the rubbish from the town and composted the lot. It worked. Lovely mounds of beautiful brown compost.

    Today there is too much plastic and far too many chemical containers and goodness knows what. There are still possibilities to organizing things for organic waste.


  51. @Robert
    Please remember that methane is a product of anaerobic bacteria – the sort that don’t make good compost. If the organic materials were properly composted the carbon and other nutrients would be locked up into the compost where it could be re-used.

    There is also a study that suggests that cows produce methane because they are budded when young. Cows that are allowed to grow horns have a better digestive system and so do not produce anywhere near as much.


  52. @Sandy
    I speak as an allotmenter with several decades of experience – and my father’s family owned the same farm from the 1790s until the 1990s.

    I didn’t intend the kids to do anything on the allotment apart from enjoy themselves, but learn they did. They learned that the Christmas parsnips they so enjoyed (see my post above) were sown almost as soon as Christmas was over! They learned which holes to dig for what and that earthworms were nice (and not only for eating!).


  53. @The Raging Tory
    is that bio-dynamic as in Demeter, or just as an expression?

    Do bear in mind that with all the pesticides and other nasties used on the soil, there are more song birds in back gardens than on farmland. That is a terrible legacy.

    Yes, and in Europe there are some very small farms. In Germany it is quite common for people to have a part time job and farm on the side.


  54. @Bill
    “the way in which the political mind can only deal with one issue in isolation” – it is a side effect of analytical thinking. I come from a family of academics whose passion is for dissecting everything to the point of pure nonsense. Then they have problems trying to put it all together again.

    If one develops the capacity to form an overview, much in the way that JW seems to be able to, you can see the important bits of a problem and deal with them. The rest can be put to one side until there is time to deal with it.


  55. there are so few new jobs that relevence of Health and Safety (AT WORK) or industrial premises rental yields are all but irrelevent at present


  56. Morvan
    “they all think that milk is made in a factory.”

    Well (it sort of) was before the railways: ‘City Dairies’–the name lives on in some places–where milking cows lived a life of urban confinement in cowsheds in our cities. It had to be that way before refridgeration and rail transport.

    “…the Broads were a result of rush farming and maintenance as a navigation system (dredging)…”

    The Norfolk Broads are entirely an artifact of man. They were originally created by peat extraction: the product was distributed far and wide across England. It was a big industry, too, with some working faces having been over a mile long.

    But you’re right about the wildly inaccurate perceptions modern Brits have about our ‘green and pleasant land’ The usual refrain is ‘it mustn’t be changed because its always been like that’. Well it hasn’t. That’s an urban myth. Our forefathers would look at most English woodland today with horror at our neglect of once productive copices, many of which were established by back-breaking toil by our Neolithic ancestors to supply ‘underwood’, mostly to burn.

    The Neolithics spend some two thousand years clearing our country of the giant weeds comprising the post glacial wildwood down to about 8% tree coverage by the time Stonehenge was built. The advent of the iron age in Britain raised this to some 12% as demand for charcoal for smelting soared. Good old economics.


  57. “In Germany it is quite common for people to have a part time job and farm on the side.”

    Which is why it has been said for 30 years in my memory that the CAP will not get reformed. It ain’t just the French. German urban man has been subsidising his rural brothers for decades. Same in the UK but for different reasons.


  58. RG

    That’s because the word has become meaningless. They shouldn’t have used it.

    The phrase ‘presumption in favour of development’ first emanated from government in 1924. It remained in use as a principle underlying the entire development control system until 1991 when the Thatcher government added at the end (in s54A of the Town and Country Planning Act) the four letter word “plan”. Thus the so called ‘plan-led’ system was born and the modern problems really got going. Law of unintended consequences again. Local authorities failed to make their plans (70% still haven’t): if you don’t produce a plan you can’t be held to its policy contents. Job done. Housing shortage problem exported to neighborouring county.

    Land supply slipped, prices rose, build quality fell. Viscious circle starts: poor quality, homogeneous designs crammed into ever smaller plots; shit, in other words—no wonder nobody wants it near them. Land supply constraint suits the majors because it squeezes out the smaller local housebuiders: only the big boys have the resources to push development proposals through the tortuous planning process.

    And as for ‘brownfield’ first: right idea in principle, wrong way to go about it. Prioritising brownfield has made it an investment hold: its there, but it suits the owners to wait. This won’t change until enough greenfield is released to put the value of the brownfield on a downward trend. Simple economics again. Also, of course, there’s only enough ‘brownfield’ for a relatively small percentage of need in the longer term.

    So to JW’s main point, the majors didn’t bung the tories the cash to change things, but to keep them the same. Suits them, you see.


  59. True, its not PP, its Building Regs I’d need. And that would be a nightmare, because I’d have to bring the insulation up to scratch, which cant be done without raising the roof, which needs planning permission, or lowering the ceilings, which requires hobbits to inhabit.


  60. TRT

    You CAN re-roof without asking the planners, even in a conservation area and with ANY materials. Its Class C of permitted development. Google “SI 2008 No 2362”.

    The planners are bluffing you: they just want control and fees.

    A “repair” is not “development” and is therefore not controlled. Re-roofing IS development but planning permission is granted across the whole of England by parliament.

    Call the planners bluff.


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