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Bill Bryson is wrong again

Bill BrysonToday’s Times carries an extract form Bill Bryson’s new book “The Road to Little Dribbling; More Notes From a Small Island”. Under the headline “We ought to be appalled to see what is happening to the green belt”, the extract is a paean for the retention of the green belt. But it slips between green belt and green field, almost equating the two and fails to maintain the important distinction. It lists the benefits of the green belt, but fails to note the problems – such as increased journey times, air pollution, and the creation of a belt beyond the belt of highly priced rural properties, in ideal commuting locations.

And Bryson adds to the mythology of the undoubtedly beneficial green belts by claiming, erroneously, that “The notion of green belts was enshrined in the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act”. It was not. The first green belt, around London, was created under the Green Belt (London and Home Counties) Act 1938. Apart from that, the basis for green belts is entirely in policy, which, unlike legislation, can be changed by policy makers. Unlike the laws of the Medes and the Persians, green belts can be repealed, or changed. We don’t have to go back to King Darius and Daniel in the Lion’s Den (read Daniel, Chapter 6 if you want to see the unfortunate consequences) to see how undesirable it is to make things immutable.

1 comment to Bill Bryson is wrong again

  • What worries me is how much attention these Dribbling and confused protectionists receive from the media. Not one landowner or person in housing need is ever asked for their thoughts on the fact that 40% of England is a protected landscape (the words of a bemoaning official at DeCLOG) and that the EU has said our Green Belt policies are strangling our economy. I won’t mention the human rights abuses within English national parks.

    We need balance, I see none.

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