Adam Smith institute 1 - CPRE 0

Mark mark at
Thu May 25 18:09:57 BST 2006

My response to Simon:

I wouldn't usually go out of my way to support the views of a right-wing
think-tank who before know were the main policy agenda-setters for the
Thatherite years.

I was being cavalier - the problem is to do with what is being
productively grown on land as much as it is about the chemical saturation
and slow-destruction of soil ecology - and so, therefore, why on earth
shouldn't some land be given over to housing attached to natural
regeneration that could be a source of fuel. I believe that agriculture
should exist alongside low-impact housing development, within a strict
planning regime, perhaps with the condition that the planning-use of the
land cannot be changed from remaining as low-impact
development/sub-agricultural - as should apply with all county farms so
that the local authority isn't tempted to make a fast buck when times are

The urban mass demand of resources and energy combined with the onset of
the running out of fossil fuel is a further reason for a step change
towards a move of some numbers of the urban population back to the
countryside (I've been talking about this is terms of a new bill of Rights
which incorporates landrights - working title - "The Grand Settlement").
There is still a hell of a lot of land to live on provided it is done
sustainably and with less energy requirement (but to administer would be a
politically contentious issue, some form of bureaucratic control order
properly regulated and monitored, hopefully combined with an element of
self-managed autonomy informed by a networking dynamic between different
localities and cultures/class interests). Come the financial crash, land
is all people will have that holds any real value.

I don't see anyway around this issue in the long term unless there is a
combination of solutions which include this - and we'dd only be talking
about grade 3 or 4  agricultural land - which would thereafter have dual
agriculturaal/housing use. I am a hopeless idealist, I know. However, on
Farming Today Wednesday morning last week, a woman from Devon & Cornwall
Housing Trust was talking about a new planning use class on this same very
issue. (Simon of course originally coined this term in his book "Low


---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Re: [diggers350] Re: Adam Smith institute 1 - CPRE 0
From:    "Peter Hack" <petercrispin at>
Date:    Wed, May 24, 2006 11:04 am
To:      "Mark" <mark at>

Sorry Simon but I disagree with this. It is not true
that most farming in the West Country is low impact,
as far as i can see very few farms remain true to
their low intensity roots and those that do are
largely concentrated on Dartmoor.

I do not see why people should not have the option of
self build kit houses that are available near to the
place that you live if they are currently forced to
rent or buy at some totally unaffordable price. Either
that or tackle second homes and buy to rent bastards
(no real likelihood of that)who have reduced the
supply of available houses jacking up prices on the
back of their equity with high rents paying the
difference and their pension.

      Peter Hack

--- Mark <mark at> wrote:

> In response to the e-mail entitled "Adam Smith
> institute 1 - CPRE 0":
> From: Simon Fairlie
> e-mail: chapter7 at
> Date: Wed 17th May, 11.30pm
> Dear Mark
> Like James Armstrong, you are too cavalier about
> supporting free
> marketeers who justify more housebuilding in the
> countryside because
> agriculture is "ugly, and provides no habitat for
> wildlife".
> Yes , a lot of agriculture is high impact and
> chemical and over
> mechanized and ugly, but a lot of it isn't,
> including the greater
> part of the farming in West Country. More
> importantly, agriculture
> provides our food,  our fibre and our renewable
> fuel, and if we don't
> maintain our agriculture in the UK, then we have to
> get it from
> somewhere else, or starve. It is a regrettable fact
> growing food and
> fibre inevitably means altering nature and keeping
> wildlife at bay,
> to some extent (though not to the degree that
> conventional farming
> does at the moment)   and if we don't practice
> agriculture here  in
> England,  we will be paying other countries to trash
> their
> environment on our behalf.
> Balen states that "cropland, rough grazing and grass
> land account for
> the vast majority of the countryside, land which is
> not worth
> protecting". This is the voice of a townie who
> either believes that
> human beings don't need to eat, or else is happy to
> import all his
> food from abroad.
> The argument that there are acres of agricultural
> land to spare, and
> that development is more nature-friendly than
> agriculture opens the
> door for unlimited market housing which will turn
> the whole of the
> South of England UK into a carbon copy of a leafy
> American suburb,
> with three car families living on three acre plots
> driving their kids
> miles to school every day. That's why Balen
> advocates a planning
> system for England the same as in Hoiuston, Texas.
> And if the free
> market reigned, there would still be a lack of
> affordable housing.
> Free market analysts like Mark Pennington and Mischa
> Balen are
> superficially attractive because, being free market
> economists,  they
> home in on the economic distortions caused by a
> planning system which
> relies on restricting the area of building land. But
> as free market
> economists, they don't give a shit who grows their
> food, how little
> the farmworkers  get paid, or what environmental
> sacrifices they have
> to make to keep us living in leafy luxury.
> Sustainable affordable low impact rural communities
> can only be
> founded on sustainable agriculture. Rural
> development which is not
> based on  agriculture is suburban sprawl.
> I  think that CPRE, despite all  their  faults, are
> rather nearer to
> an appreciation of this fact than the likes of Balen
> and Pennington.
> I'd be  happier if  CPRE bought the County Farm down
> the road which
> is up for sale, than if the Adam Smith institute
> bought it
> Simon Fairlie
> Hats: Chapter 7, The Land, The Scythe Shop
> The Potato Store, Flaxdrayton Farm,
> S. Petherton, Somerset TA 13 5LR
> 01460 249204
> chapter7 at
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