by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
In his latest wheeze the Planning Minister – yes, him again – is now looking to relax the planning laws governing National Parks to force through the erection of broadband masts and equipment to enable the speedier roll out of the service. This is despite claims that in the past 5 years only 3 out of 140 applications have been turned down on the grounds of spoiling the rural landscape.
The question is therefore whether this is a necessary piece of legislation to increase the availability of modern technology or the setting of a dangerous and unnecessary precedence, open to misuse at some future date. What happened to key decisions being taken locally? And what is the point of providing protection for the countryside when it can be simply rescinded in a move that flies in the face of democracy?
Is this a case of power going to his head? And if so can we do the countryside a favour and increase the voltage!
After several of the media reported this aim of relaxing the planning laws in our National Parks DEFRA has come out with a “myths buster” claiming that what the media has reported simply if not true.
However, just to prove that the current Planning Minister – yes, yes, him again – is not the only 'enemy of the countryside' in this coalition government. The Deputy PM is too for he is calling for an arc of new settlements modeled on Milton Keynes to be built in the Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire countryside to solve the housing crisis.
Apparently he believes that destroying some of the best countryside in England will stop planning disputes when developers try and build new housing in already-established communities.
We do not, as mentioned time and again, new (eco) towns as, first of, we have enough empty homes to house everyone who wants a home, plus every homeless person or family in this country, plus all of those in Eire. All that is required would be to refurbish those homes.
But, that's where the problem lies. Refurbishment does not carry the tax relief and tax break that does the building of new homes does for the developers.