Thursday, August 30, 2007

What Are We Defending ?



‘Winston Smith, a member of the Outer Party, lives in the ruins of London, the chief city of Airstrip One ‘(1984)


As I get older I am more interested in the 'conserving' side of conservatism. I find myself thinking "I `m, not at all sure a lot more planes are going to do me any good whereas the knowledge that another part of the country is ruined does somehow hurt me"
I have seen the arguments kicked around on the economics and I think I back Cameron’s green initiative on balance. The answer for internal travel is rail but we keep building roads .

Why is this ? Studies show that Roads generate traffic not lessen it and we cannot build more roads at the hub points . I was looking at buying a house in Brighton and wherever you are the air literally thunders with the noise. No thanks . Road transport generates about 142 m Tonnes of CO2 a year which is about 25% of the total for the UK . I am something of a sceptic on environmentalism in its absurdly apocalyptic guise but in general I approve of stewardship over the country and by extension the world.My commonsense view is that it would be surprising if the events of the 20th century had no effect on the atmosphere.I have no doubt exaggerated claims are made but in any case the Oil is running out and we are turning the country into a dump.So many people who are quick to adopt right wing attitudes to defence forget what it is we are defending and always side with big business in the despoiling of this 'precious stone set in a silver sea'

Decisions on Road building are made under the NATA system introduced by Labour in 1998 by chief fat fraud and corrupt opportunist Prescott ( whose son is of course making a mint handling dubious planning applications ). Section 3.5 for example gives the road option extra points because more cars and lorries generates more fuel tax revenues . It actually deducts points from rail and public transport options because they will remove cars. Each driver minute saved is valued at 44p which leads to a huge notional value for every road suggested. The new widening scheme for the M1 between junctions 30 and 42 costs £1.5 billion but adds value notionally of £4.5 billion over its life so it is approved. It is clear that almost any road would be approved on this basis with no value assigned to environmental effects except to be called ‘moderate , severe or very large adverse’. This has in the past frustrated road builders and the DTI are lobbying hard to lose this emotional element . They want numbers in the mix but the signs are they will be risibly low . This is quite wrong anyway as the emotional attachment is precisely the point . In my view the only real point.

I am no longer in favour of development for economic or Libertarian grounds regardless of the conservation cost. It would suit the local skip company very nicely to tip his waste in front of my door but I feel he should bear his own costs and part of that is the cost to our spirits.David Cameron has at least grasped the real issues . Environmental concern has resolved into gestures on Green products while politicians are in fact committed to vast programmes of construction that dwarf this green garnish. Cameron cycles the cycle with a car behind him but he walks the walk with a policy behind him and that is a deal more important

The whole system has been biased against rail from the beginning. The motor-way system was kicked off by Ernest Marples who also commissioned Dr. Beeching to produce his report which closed thousands of miles of rail track. Marples was the founder of Marples Ridgeway a firm of civil engineers that specialised inroad building . As transport minister he transferred two thirds of his shares to avoid a conflict of interest . He gave them to his wife !!

I started with Orwell and I `ll end with some evocations of the infinite spiritual worth of our country poetic and comedic


From Gods Grandeur …( Gerald Manley Hopkins )

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods
with warm breast and with ah! bright wings
.


I like this bit of Dads army is which the affection we feel for the bumptious but decent Mannering is more explicit than is usually allowed. Wilson and Mannering are walking along the coast in a beautiful dusk.....

Wilson-[( languidly)“ You know Sir , it really is rather a beautiful evening …..”
Mannering ( barks )” It’s a beautiful country Wilson…”


Are we going to keep it that way ? ……This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England or are we content to have Airstrip One ?

14 comments:

Ed said...

Well, where to start?!

I just wonder how you have the time to fit in working, commuting, putting up shelves!!

Newmania said...

I have some today but not tommorow

Newmania said...

PS I appreciate that its far more than people would want to look at but sometimes I like to set down my thoughts and this what I have a blog for ..partly

Anonymous said...

Well said, newmania. What a brilliant posting. I love it xxx That's the spirit we need, you are so right.

You've reminded me of my thoughts of a few days ago, when I stood in the shadow of a gorgeous little saxon church perched on a green hillside in deepest Essex. The clearest of blue skies sparkled in the long sweep of a stunning bay below. it was a sight as lovely as any that you'll find anywhere. Walking around that little church in the footsteps our forefathers, who's genius and love built it there almost a thousand years ago, I felt such a bond with those ancient peoples. They were men and women who loved this island, its heritage, values and countryside as much as we still do today.

Despite their struggle for survival through far harder times than we shall ever know, countless generations of our countrymen and women maintained sustainable stewardship of this island, of its communities, resources, values and heritage. It was their good stewardship which passed down such a green and truly pleasant land to us.

Yet now, in the course of one short decade, the good stewardship, freedoms and community values for which our forefathers fought for centuries are being swept aside.

Now a hand and mind as chilling as the Dark Lord's, Voldemort's, is intent on destroying England's communities, values and countryside. That greedy, avaricious Scot, B ruin, will never be satisfied until he's concreted over England and enslaved our people. And all in the service of the untrammelled power, wealth and dour dominion of B ruin and his crew of wreckers.

As you so rightly suggest, this fight for the essential green lungs of our English towns isn't just about saving our countryside, it's a fight for the soul and spirit of England and its people.

Auntie Flo'

Newmania said...

...and that was one fo your best Flo..I must admit i have been somewhat influenced by you . I did notice though that Dales suppoprt for Aikrport expansion was criticised by a lot of people which considering its a Conservative Blog shows there is a still a lot of traditional conserving , in the party

Anonymous said...

Tnanks, newmania.


N, what's going on at YouGov?

I've been a YouGov panellist for years and completed their survey of political views every month...or rather, every month with the exception of two periods.

For some months now Yougov have suddenly and inexplicably cut me off of their panel without any reason or explanation.

As I said, this has happened twice in recent times - and on both occasions at a time when support for Cameron has apparently dipped in the polls.

YouGov have in the past admitted making sampling errors - was this due to something like carrying the results over from one poll over to another or 'averaging' results? I'm not sure.

I'd be interested to know if YouGov have changed their sampling methodology again, it certainly feels to me as though they have as I've been taken off the panel!

Auntie Flo'

Newmania said...

Odd that , there is a poor You Gov poll out today...dunno

CityUnslicker said...

No, all wrong ont his. We desperately need more investment in roads or else the country is headed to gridlock.

Rail sounds all well and good but it is great for me (london commuter living in suburbs), but useufl for most of my compatriots who live in small towns and drive to work on indsutrial estates a few miles away.

The huge underinvestment in roads and over-investment in rail has left journey times increasing in the UK over the past decade.

Also, see Guido today, there is less efficiency to rail than you would think; just as air transport is much more efficient than the green lobby would have us believe.

I too belive in your concept of stewardship. However, the population grows and people want to travel more. Either we build to the need or we prevent people from travelling.; that last point is the nub. Do we want to restrict freedom of movement?

Ken Livingstone has this in practive by effectively allowing only the rich to drive in central london.

Look up my post here

Newmania said...

But roads increase traffic CU won`t that encourage gridlock and you can hardly claim Rail has been overinvested in our Rail system is a shambolic late and inadequately serves the country.Lord knows how you work out that Roads have been underinvested in compared to rail

"Do we want to restrict freedom of movement?"

Yes of course but only through cost and choice I don`t want people to be free to turn the place into a car park and some freedoms have to be sacrificed. There is nothing novel about this.

I say just stop building roads then people will use trains or not go. Fine ... would you accept that you have to stop some time ?

And the polulation is only growing because people live too long and immigrate . The oldies do not travel so we are making our own problems we are not reproducing ourlseves ...nothing like .

Yes we could all have two cars but I would rather have somewhere worth going

CityUnslicker said...

N - that facts are otherwise. the huge rail investment has increased capacity by 3%. A similar investment in roads would increase capacity by a staggering 85%.

If you want to stop people then have road pricing; a much more efficient model.

Imagine you were saying that we should not have flood defences indefinitley becuase by the year 3000 the UK will technically be under the Atlantic. Would you really advocate a policy of no change here...even though it is perfectly possible to save these isles for a few more gnerations?

Conservatism does not mean stopping progress and many road improvements are not new roads but reparis and slight extensions to existing ones.

Anonymous said...

The problem with nulab's road building programs is that these are not about reducing road congestion at all - they are DESIGNED to increase traffic.

That's because, under nulab, road building is almost exclusively used as a catalyst to open up yet more countryside for yet more housing development to house yet more migrants. What bloody use is that?

Little wonder the roads fill up as fast as we build them and road traffic has increased by 11% under nulab. Little wonder the widening of the M25 made no difference whatsoever to the volume of congestion on the road.

Cityslicker, your view that we must keep on building more roads is unsustainable. You would have us concreting and building over the countryside - the vital green lungs of our towns - until we're as choked with fumes as the Chinese and there's beggar all clean air, countryside or quality of life outside of Scotland.

My view is that it's far too late to even think of reducing traffic on this small island. All we can do now is to try to minimise additional future congestion.

Only three measures will in my view achieve this:

1. Strict controls on migration here
2. Road pricing - which is political dynamite

Auntie Flo'

Anonymous said...

Forget the last one:

3. Sack nulab

Auntie Flo'

Anonymous said...

cityunslicker - sorry I called you cityslicker - you say

"Imagine you were saying that we should not have flood defences indefinitely because by the year 3000 the UK will technically be under the Atlantic. Would you really advocate a policy of no change here...even though it is perfectly possible to save these isles for a few more generations?"


You've reminded me of another effect of runaway road and housing development: flooding.

The cost of really effective flood defences would make most of our housing development uneconomic. Much of this development is only viable now because the government have manipulated planning regs on flood defence requirements to allow developers to use SuDS (see below), which are substantially cheaper than conventional drainage/ water treatment systems and don't require building more water treatment plants.

However, those I've seen on large developments exacerbate flooding instead of preventing it. Not surprising, since SuDS are floods.

In my view, a far greater threat than the Atlantic in a thousand years time is the growing internal threat we have now - from raised water tables and the threat of widespread groundwater and surface water flooding caused by a combination of:

Over development in and around floodplains, in particular throughout the South East ~ unsustainable housing densities ~ consequent unsustainable demand for water and waste water drainage and treatment ~ and consequent unsustainable volumes of rainwater runoff
~ unsustainable flood control systems, SuDS, which overload the water tablem underground aquifers and surface watercourses, thereby exacerbating flooding ~ climate change.

And concreting over green buffer soakaways for roads means roads in themselves generate a huge amount of additional rainwater runoff. That's why motorways such as the M11 used to flood for miles when first built. Now, however, the floodwater is syphoned off of the motorways onto the nearest land - which is too often the flood plains which are already being over-developed and over saturated.

Auntie Flo'

tristan said...

thanx for that beautiful quote ...

i'd been looking at the gentlemen's shops in jermyn street and thinking about wilson and mannering, and that was how i found you

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