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Saturday, 23 June 2018

Sidford business park >>> campaign group's sixth update >>> deadline for comment on planning application extended

The last communications from the group campaigning against the proposed industrial estate reminded objectors of the deadline:
Futures Forum: Sidford business park >>> campaign group's fourth update >>> deadline for comment on planning application = Friday 15th June

That deadline was in fact extended:
Futures Forum: Sidford business park >>> deadline for comment on planning application extended by two weeks

Here's the latest from Say No to Sidford Business Park:

Campaign Update 6

Hopefully you are enjoying the beautiful weather here in the Sid Valley.

To date there have been 211 submissions to East Devon District Council regarding the planning application to build the business park at Sidford. Of those 211 submissions, 97% (204) are objecting to the proposed development. That shows the real concern that local residents have with the planning application.

Despite that it says on the District Council’s website that the consultation has concluded, it has not!

Whilst the date set for receipt of submissions was 15 June, those of you who were present at the recent public meeting called by the campaign will recall that at the end of the meeting Councillor Mike Howe who chairs the District Council’s Development Management Committee, assured the audience that submissions would be still accepted beyond that date.

The Development Management Committee considers and makes determinations on planning applications and so Councillor Howe’s word has authority. Councillor Howe was recently asked to clarify what the latest date would be for members of the public to make submissions which would be taken into account by the Development Management Committee.

In response Councillor Howe has confirmed in an email -

I said that we would receive all comments up to the night before a decision, although I didn’t specify when a decision would be made I did state that for people to be safe that responses should be made in the next 3 weeks, from that meeting, as we will not make a decision in that time.

But we cannot change the date for submissions on the website as this is a set date for all consultations.

I hope that helps.

Cllr Mike Howe, Chair Development Management Committee, East Devon District Council

What this means is that if anyone still wants to make a submission, or to supplement their existing submission, then there is still time for them to do so. Councillor Howe confirmed in his email that submissions could still be made by this coming Tuesday 26 June (that’s three weeks from the date of our public meeting).

Indeed, Councillor Howe has stated that submissions would still be valid up to and including the night before the date that the Development Management Committee meets to consider the planning application. That date still seems to be many weeks away.

So, if you or anyone you know still has not yet submitted their objection to the planning application, now’s the time to do so as every submission counts!

WRITE TO: Planning Central, East Devon District Council, Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL or email: PlanningCentral@eastdevon.gov.uk.

QUOTE PLANNING REFERENCE: 18/1094/MOUT: Outline Application for the development of Employment Facilities on Land Adjacent to Two Bridges, Two Bridges Road Sidford.

Remember, if you have made a submission then you will be able to claim speaking rights at the Development Management Committee meeting. That’s an added incentive to ensure that you have made a submission.

If you want to see what other people have said in their submissions, click on this link – https://planning.eastdevon.gov.uk/online-applications/. You will need to input the above planning reference to go to the related pages for the business park.

Perhaps though we should really call the business park what it would in reality be, an industrial estate!

Best wishes

Campaign Team


Say NO to Sidford Business Park - Home | Facebook
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Save our high streets > government 'calls for evidence' in its review of the future of high streets

At the recent meeting between East Devon's MP and Sidmouth's businesses, several issues came up:
Futures Forum: How to revive the health of Sidmouth's high street >>> "MP vows to take town's high street woes to Government - and calls for future vision"

But the main complaint was the unfairness of the rates system:
Futures Forum: How to revive the health of Sidmouth's high street >>> "Packed meeting hears that business rates hitting our traders are 'not sustainable'."

There are other ideas for the revival of the high street - including getting people to live in town centres:
Futures Forum: How to revive the health of Sidmouth's high street >>> affordable housing in the town centre?

And making the high street more of a destination point:
Futures Forum: Save our high streets > "Put things on the high street people want to do, and they’ll return"

These are the ideas being put forward by the government's latest initiative:
High streets and town centres in 2030 inquiry launched - News from Parliament - UK Parliament

Although doing something about business rates is not one of them:



Planning rules could be ripped up in last-ditch bid to save Britain’s high streets

Ministers have launched a new review into ways to shore up struggling high street shops

PLANNING rules could be ripped up to breathe new life into Britain’s dying high streets, ministers declared today.
As exclusively revealed by The Sun, Communities Minister Jake Berry has launched a “call for evidence” into the future of the high streets. And he signalled the Government could ease planning restrictions to make it easier to convert empty shops to residential homes in struggling town centres – and bring in new “attractions”. He also vowed to review car park charges slapped on motorists.
As part of the review the public, for the first time, will be asked what “they want their high street to be like".
Mr Berry said: “My department will usher in a new era for high streets and town centres to bring them back into rude health.”

He added: “How do we bring people back to the high streets? We need to look at the all-round experience rather than just the product. This starts at the planning stage, creating attractive spaces where there’s a natural flow of people. And building new homes where it is quicker and easier for residents to walk to the store at the end of their road rather than ordering online.”
The move came as Debenhams announced a monster profit warning which saw its shares dive by almost 10 per cent. Thousands of jobs have already gone this year because of the collapse of chains such as Maplin and Toys R Us.
The Minister insisted he was confident in the future of the high street – given it had been with us since “the Middle Ages”.
But he was criticised yesterday by industry experts after appearing to rule out any shake-up to the business rate regime as part of his review.
He insisted the Government had already introduced £10billion-worth of business rate support. But sources claimed the Chancellor has ruled out any further concessions despite the collapse of big name chains.
Paul Turner Mitchell of Altus Group said: “It’s hugely disappointing that the High Streets Minister is completely silent on bricks n clicks business rates issues.”
The Sun last month revealed Tory backbenchers were calling on the Government to help cut the business rate bill suffered by high street stores by introducing a 3 per cent ‘sales tax’ on online giants such as Amazon.

Planning rules could be ripped up in last-ditch bid to save Britain's high streets - The Sun
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Devon dominates list of Britain's priciest seaside towns > with Buddleigh Salterton in the top ten

It is clearly very expensive to live beside the seaside in Devon - as reported in the Western Morning News: 

Devon dominates list of Britain's priciest seaside towns

Salcombe, Dartmouth and Budleigh Salterton all feature in the top 10


William Telford
23 JUN 2018

Devon has some of the country’s most expensive seaside towns – and house prices are holding up pretty well.

Salcombe, Dartmouth and Budleigh Salterton all feature in the top 10 in Halifax's new annual seaside town review, which tracks house price movements in 193 seaside towns across Britain. Devon is the only county with three entrants in the rankings.

Salcombe is at number two in a list topped, as you might expect, by the ritzy millionaires’ row of Sandbanks in Poole, which has been crowned Britain's most expensive seaside town for the third year in a row.



Salcombe in Devon

And Cornwall features strongly in the top 10 too, with the Daphne du Maurier town of Fowey and top chef Rick Stein’s culinary centre Padstow also included.

The Jurassic Coast town of Lyme Regis, just up the coast in Dorset, is also a pricey destination.

Both Sandbanks and Salcombe saw average house prices dip in the past 12 months, but the rest of the list has maintained values at 2017 levels. In Sandbanks average house prices fell by nearly £37,500 in the past year, but house hunters in the fancy location would need an average of £626,553 if they want to join the elite. Salcombe also experienced a house price decline with the average property now costing £577,591, which is a mighty £52,702 less than in 2017.

The report suggests stamp duty costs – a price hike was introduced for second homes in 2016 – may have helped put the brakes on house price growth in some of these uber-desirable coastal areas. But Sandbanks and Salcombe are the ONLY seaside towns in the top 10 to have seen property values fall compared with a year earlier.


The Sandbanks Peninsula in Poole, Dorset

Aldeburgh, in Suffolk, sits in third place, with an average property price tag of £535,872. The remainder of the top 10 are all in southern England, with Hampshire’s Lymington and East Wittering, in Sussex, also making the list.

Cornwall’s most expensive town is, now surprise, fashionable Padstow, where the average house will set you back £435,833.

Russell Galley, Halifax managing director, said: "It's no surprise that the South coast continues to be home to the most expensive seaside towns in the country, including those with the greatest growth in house prices over the last 10 years.

"What we can see though is that the two most desirable locations have in fact seen prices drop over the last year. This fall is likely to have been impacted by the higher costs of stamp duty for these more expensive homes."

Here are the most expensive seaside towns in Britain, according to Halifax, with the average house price:

1. Sandbanks, Dorset, South West, £626,553

2. Salcombe, Devon, South West, £577,591

3. Aldeburgh, Suffolk, East Anglia, £535,872

4. Lymington, Hampshire, South East, £487,143

5. Padstow, Cornwall, South West, £435,833

6. Dartmouth, Devon, South West, £431,539
7. East Wittering, Sussex, South East, £414,005

8. Fowey, Cornwall, South West, £403,622

9. Lyme Regis, Dorset, South West, £397,584

10. Budleigh Salterton, Devon, South West, £396,034


Brexit: and why there is no compulsion to pick fruit >>> high levels of employment in the UK and the difficulty of commuting in rural areas

Will there be strawberries at Wimbledon?
Futures Forum: Brexit: and rotting strawberries

Caroline Nye is a researcher at the University of Exeter, who has looked into this: 

Caroline's research focuses on the ‘blind spot’ of agricultural research: farm labour. 
It contributes an original analysis of the composition of contemporary farm labour in the South West of England, as well as examining social, attitudinal, and behavioural changes that have arisen from transformations in the agricultural labour situation over the last fifty years. 
It examines the premise that, whilst traditional workers have declined, self-employed contractors and intermittent farm workers are on the increase within UK agriculture. 
The casualisation of agricultural labour into a more ‘flexible’ workforce is a largely ignored phenomenon in agricultural research when considered alongside more traditional forms of labour, at the micro level, especially in the case of self-employed contractors.

E-profiles University of Exeter

Farmers in the West Country are using contractors to find workers:
Research news - Farmers increasingly relying on agricultural contractors, new research shows Research - Research at Exeter - University of Exeter

She wrote a piece for the Huffington Post earlier this year:
Farming Out The Field Work Won't Stop Migrant Worker Exploitation Post-Brexit

And she is featured in a piece today from the i newspaper - explaining why it is going to be so difficult to recruit local pickers in the West Country:

British strawberries are at risk after Brexit because UK workers are ‘too picky’ to pick fruit



Worker Benjamin picks fruit on Chegworth Valley Farm. Photo: Justin Sutcliffe

Friday June 22nd 2018

It is only 30 minutes into my trial shift as a strawberry picker at Chegworth Valley Farm in Kent, but the fields already seem to stretch forever. Around me, the mostly Romanian workers are moving steadily, relentlessly, using two hands to deposit the succulent red berries in rows of punnets on a cart at their feet. They soon pull away from me – it’s clear I’m not picking my share.

Increasingly, it has been reported, these imported workers are disappearing. There are dire warnings that Britain’s strawberries will be left to rot as the spectre of Brexit makes foreign labour harder to find.

Max Fane, the marketing manager at Chegworth Valley, which supplies a range of fruit and vegetables to its own farm shops in London, plus restaurants (including Jamie Oliver’s), is rightly unimpressed at my efforts.

“It’s physical work, but it’s not difficult or overly strenuous and we use a raised table system, which is fairly common in the industry now, which means, at least for strawberries, the back-breaking element of the job is gone,” he says.
Peeling away

Nonetheless, we are picking in long plastic polytunnels and after about an hour, I’m sweating profusely. It’s no wonder most fruit pickers start at 6am, before the heat hits the narrow tunnels. It’s surprisingly solitary work too. Each picker gets into their own rhythm and follows their own path.

Given the nature of the work, the limited picking season and rural locations, it’s no surprise that Britons have long preferred to hand picking-duties over to eastern European migrants. Now though, with the UK’s looming departure from the EU, farmers are warning that a lack of migrant labour will put the UK’s food security at risk.


Benjamin from Romania picks with both hands. Photo: Justin Sutcliffe

British recruiters in Romania used to take their pick of workers and even use dexterity tests to find the quickest operators. That’s no longer the case. In May alone there were more than 1,500 unfilled vacancies on British farms and the National Farmers Union (NFU) is concerned that the shortage of labour will hit 30 per cent during peak harvest season.

Each year around 90,000 seasonal workers bring in British crops and with fewer of them coming from countries like Poland, Romania and Bulgaria due to uncertainty created by Brexit and the weakened pound.

Farmers across the country are already reporting that they are planning to plant less, while several have already gone to the wall. According to the English Apples and Pears growers association, almost a third of its members are scaling back their operations due to the labour shortage.


Hot potato

The Association of Labour Providers has warned that 49 per cent of its members do not expect to be able to supply sufficient numbers of workers this year.

“The production of soft fruit in the UK is almost exclusively reliant on seasonal workers from the EU. Yet nearly two years after the Brexit referendum, we are still no further forward in understanding how recruitment will work once we leave the EU,” says Nick Marston, the chairman of industry body British Summer Fruits.

The issue has become a political football too.


Jamie Merill tries his hand in the polytunnels at Chegworth Valley Farm. Photo: Justin Sutcliffe

“Britain has a proud farming heritage and Brexiteers are putting all that at risk,” says Layla Moran MP, a spokesperson for Best for Britain, a pro-EU campaign group.

Many industry insiders say the labour shortage has broader economic causes.

“We are seeing a real shortfall of people coming into our agencies in Romania and Bulgaria. We’ve run focus groups on why, and Brexit doesn’t really come up,” says Stephanie Maurel, the chief executive of labour provider Concordia, which brings 10,000 workers a year into the UK. The only real Brexit ripple is the impact of the weaker pound, which means it now makes more financial sense for Romanian or Bulgarian workers to go to Germany.”

Further afield

Currently UK farmers can’t recruit seasonal labour from outside the EU because of a decision made by David Cameron’s government in 2013 to end the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme.

At various points in its history it had allowed workers from Belarus, Ukraine and Russia to come to the UK on seasonal visas. Similar schemes still operate across Europe but the approach was scrapped in the UK when Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU.

“We warned then that there would be labour shortages within five years and that’s exactly what has happened,” says Ali Capper, the National Farmers Union’s horticulture board chair. We are the only country in the EU that relies on EU migrant labour. Elsewhere in Europe you’ll find Ukrainian and even Nepalese pickers. That’s the answer.”


Punnets of fresh strawberries may well be harder to come by following Brexit. Photo: Justin Sutcliffe

But what about British workers? In 2016 following the Brexit vote, Andrea Leadsom, the then Environment Secretary said she hoped more youngsters would take up jobs as fruit pickers. This has not happened.

Attempts to find British workers have failed repeatedly, and the latest NFU data suggests that there could be as few as 300 British strawberry pickers. The main issue, growers and farmers agree, is that the work is strenuous and not brilliantly paid. But the solution isn’t as simple as finding more cash.

There are no official figures, but most pickers earn above the minimum wage with some earning as much as £14 an hour.

“The bad old days of cash-in-hand are long gone,” says Mr Fane. “Our staff get subsidised accommodation, pay taxes and are offered a pension.”

Seasoned issues

Benjamin Gombos, 32, a Romanian picker who has returned to Chegworth Valley with his wife for the third year in a row, isn’t sure why British workers don’t take up the work.

“It’s easy work really, and the money is good. I can earn here in a week what would take me a month to earn back home.” But what about Brexit, I ask. “It hasn’t changed anything,” he says.

The real barriers, says Caroline Neye, an academic from Exeter University who studies labour trends, are high levels of employment in the UK and the difficulty of commuting in rural areas. The benefits system also deters unemployed people from taking up seasonal work.

“Add this to the inconsistency of work availability itself, and there is little wonder why there is no compulsion to pick fruit,” she says. “But even if incentives were improved, British workers would still be unlikely to perform it because of how the work is perceived.”

It’s a point that Fane agrees with. “I do wonder if young British workers might see picking fruit as a little demeaning, which is a shame because it isn’t – I’d be queuing up for this work if I was a student.”


Too picky to pick fruit? Lack of British workers after Brexit threatens farming
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Friday, 22 June 2018

The UK's rapid return to city centre living > and the effect a resurgent Exeter city centre could have on development in East Devon

The East Devon Watch blog has noticed a new development in urban living which could impact on East Devon - if Exeter were to stop expanding its suburbs that is: 

GREATER EXETER – WILL CITY LIVING TAKE SOME OF THE PRESSURE OFF EAST DEVON?

22 JUN 2018

It seems that, after years of decline, living in cities has become more and more popular for all age groups, but particularly you g professionals. Given the decline in rural services such as loss of transport, infrastructure, sixth forms, community hospitals and shops, this is not too surprising.

However, when it comes to living in Exeter it seems less popular with its city council (headed as CEO by former EDDC Head of Regeneration Karim Hassan) which appears to favour student housing and leisure centres and cinemas over homes.

And our developer-led Local Enterprise Partnership sees housing growth in areas which its developers favour for very high house prices – pretty towns and commutable rural villages, the coast – including AONBs.

There is no data for Exeter in the article but Plymouth’s city centre population has increased by 34%.

Here is what a BBC article has to say:

“The growth in city centre living is down to young people – older generations have not returned from the suburbs in significant numbers. 
Some are students, whose numbers grew with the expansion of university education. 

For example, the student population in Sheffield city centre grew by more than 300% between 2001 and 2011, according to census data. By 2011 there were 18,500 students, accounting for about half the population. 
Similarly, Liverpool’s city centre student population grew by 208% (6,300 more people), and Leeds 151% (7,700 more people).

But the popularity of big city centres among young, single professionals is the main factor.

The number of 20 to 29-year-olds in the centre of large cities (those with 550,000 people or more) tripled in the first decade of the 21st Century, to a point where they made up half of the population. There is no reason to think that this trend has eased since the census.

Only one in five city centre residents were married or in a civil partnership, while three-quarters were renting flats and apartments. More than a third had a degree, compared with 27% in the suburbs and outskirts of cities. …”


The UK's rapid return to city centre living - BBC News

Will the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (now held over until after local elections in May 2019] recognise this new trend? It would certainly take a lot of pressure off East(ern) East Devon.

Exeter or Cranbrook … Exeter or Honiton … hhhmmmm.


Greater Exeter – will city living take some of the pressure off East Devon? | East Devon Watch

Here's the complete piece from the BBC - which gives a 34% increase in the city centre population for Exeter: 

The UK's rapid return to city centre living

By Paul Swinney & Andrew Carter
Centre for Cities

22 June 2018
222 comments



A generation ago many UK city centres were dreary and dilapidated places, with a reputation for crime. Now, they are among the most desirable areas of the country to live. What's changed?

Take a walk through the centre of cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham and you will see smart new high-rise apartments, office blocks and the ever-present cranes building still more. At street level are cafes, bars, restaurants and gyms serving their often young and affluent customers - the people who increasingly define these areas.

Only 30 years ago inner city populations that had grown rapidly in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries had dwindled - the residents leaving cramped, urban housing for more spacious suburbs and new towns. The reversal that has taken place - especially in the north of England and the Midlands - demonstrates a dramatic urban renaissance and a shift in how people want to live.

Since the start of the 21st Century the population of many town and city centres has doubled in size, while the population of the UK has increased by 10%. (Full list at bottom of story).

There is no way of saying exactly where a city centre starts or stops. So, to allow a comparison between towns and cities with 135,000 or more people, the Centre for Cities mapped them from the middle of their shopping and business areas as follows:

A two-mile radius from the centre of London
A 0.8-mile radius from the centre of cities with 550,000 to four million residents
A 0.6-mile radius from the centre of towns and cities of 135,000 to 550,000


Using this measure, Liverpool has the fastest growing city centre - with the population increasing by 181% (9,100 to 25,600 people) between 2002 and 2015, according to analysis of figures from the Office for National Statistics. Other major cities are close behind, with the population of Birmingham city centre growing 163% (9,800 to 25,800 people), Leeds increasing by 150% (12,900 to 32,300 people), Manchester 149% (14,300 to 35,600 people) and Bradford 146% (1,300 to 3,200 people).

In terms of sheer numbers, the fastest growing city centre was London, which grew from 268,700 to 327,200. However, this amounted to a relatively low 22% increase.

There was also rapid growth outside England. Cardiff city centre's population increased by 88% (6,700 to 12,600) between 2002 and 2015. And although detailed figures for the same period are not available for Scotland and Northern Ireland, census data suggests that Glasgow's city centre grew by 44% (19,700 to 28,300), Edinburgh's by 25% (10,100 to 12,600) and Belfast's by 31% (3,500 to 4,600) between 2001 and 2011.


Manchester enjoyed growth of 149% in its city centre population

Homes for the young

The growth in city centre living is down to young people - older generations have not returned from the suburbs in significant numbers. Some are students, whose numbers grew with the expansion of university education.

For example, the student population in Sheffield city centre grew by more than 300% between 2001 and 2011, according to census data. By 2011 there were 18,500 students, accounting for about half the population. Similarly, Liverpool's city centre student population grew by 208% (6,300 more people), and Leeds 151% (7,700 more people).

But the popularity of big city centres among young, single professionals is the main factor. The number of 20 to 29-year-olds in the centre of large cities (those with 550,000 people or more) tripled in the first decade of the 21st Century, to a point where they made up half of the population. There is no reason to think that this trend has eased since the census.

Only one in five city-centre residents was married or in a civil partnership, while three-quarters were renting flats and apartments. More than a third had a degree, compared with 27% in the suburbs and outskirts of cities.



A big pull for young professionals has been the growing number of high-skilled, high-paying office jobs available. In big cities, more than half of the people living in the centre work in high-skilled professional occupations, reflecting the growing importance of sectors like financial and legal services to the UK economy. Manchester, for example, had an 84% increase in city centre jobs between 1998 and 2015, while Bristol and Leeds enjoyed increases of 42% and 34% respectively.

More like this:
The UK cities with the highest and lowest wages
Where are the UK's youngest and oldest city populations?


All of these jobs have created a market for gyms, restaurants, bars and shops. This in turn has made city centre living even more appealing - with closeness to amenities outweighing downsides like smaller living spaces, noise and pollution.

Then there's the opportunity to avoid the possibility of a long commute - 32% of city centre residents walk to work.

To some extent, governments have supported these trends, with the urban development corporations of the 1980s sparking the regeneration of city centre sites such as the Albert Dock in Liverpool and the Castlefield area of Manchester under the Conservatives.

The face of many cities continued to change in the early 2000s, as Labour invested significantly in urban regeneration programmes.



But some towns and cities have not grown at the same rate - often because they have struggled to attract high-skilled jobs and students. Blackpool, for example, has a relatively small number of students in its centre and suffered a 13% decline in jobs between 2002 and 2015.

Elsewhere the price of land can also limit the rate of growth, as seen in London. This has been a factor in Cambridge, where the historic city centre also limited the number of new homes built. As such, it has seen the biggest fall in the UK, with the number of residents down 8% (6,000 to 5,500 people) between 2002 and 2015.

How much space is left?

For the most successful city centres, increased demand from both residents and businesses raises important questions about the future Until now, places like Birmingham and Manchester have had lots of land to develop, as they recovered from their post-industrial decline.

But over the next 10 years the challenge will be meeting demand for housing without squeezing the commercial heart of the city centres. If they are to continue attracting high-paying jobs, city centres might have to prioritise businesses.


The population of Liverpool's city centre has grown more than 180%

Some new housing might have to be further out - in the suburbs or even on green belt land. Another solution might be to increase the density of UK city centres, which are more scarcely populated than in many other European countries. However, given the controversy around the 30-storey St Michael's development in Manchester, or protests about tall buildings blocking views of St Paul's Cathedral in London, this may be difficult.

Another challenge is gentrification - and concerns that some people lose out because of changes taking place around their homes.Addressing this will mean improving education and skill levels among everyone who lives there. It will also mean making more affordable housing available, to take account of different incomes.

Of course, city centres also have an important social and psychological significance beyond their economic role. A bustling, vibrant city centre is often a source of civic pride.

A struggling city centre can become a symbol of broader social problems and decline. This is why people care so much about the future of their city centres and want to see them thrive.


Figures from 2002-15 for England and Wales and 2001-11 for Scotland and Northern Ireland, for towns and cities with a population of 135,000 or more in the continuous built-up area

About this piece

This analysis piece was commissioned by the BBC from an expert working for an outside organisation.

Andrew Carter is chief executive and Paul Swinney is head of research and policy at the Centre for Cities, which describes itself as working to understand how and why economic growth and change takes place in the UK's cities.

Edited by Duncan Walker
View comments 222



The UK's rapid return to city centre living - BBC News
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Sidford business park >>> County Council's Highways objection to the plan focuses on the distribution element - and could ‘play straight into the developers hands’

The proposed new industrial estate on the edge of Sidford would generate a lot of new traffic - according to the applicants themselves:
Futures Forum: Sidford business park >>> "More than 250 parking spaces on a Sidford AONB floodplain? .. No thanks!"

The applicants have quite a history when it comes to developments and traffic:
Futures Forum: Ford's @ Sidmouth & Sidford >>> of supermarkets and traffic congestion

And this development would only increase the amount of traffic - in particular, the amount of workers 'commuting in' to the Sid Valley:
REPRESENTATION FROM SAVE OUR SIDMOUTH (SOS)
knowle_letter_to_planning_inspector_20140113.pdf

Which would in turn increase the amount of air pollution in the Valley:
Air pollution: move children and other vulnerable people out of Sidford? | East Devon Watch

The County Council has voiced its opposition to this development - as it did two years ago:
Futures Forum: BREAKING NEWS >>> Sidford business park > Fords planning application >>> 16/0669/MOUT >>> REFUSED

However, the question is still asked as to whether more could have been done at the Local Planning stage:
Could Councillor Stuart Hughes have done more for Sidford Fields? | East Devon Watch
Futures Forum: The Local Plan and Sidford

Interestingly, the objection from the County Council only refers to heavy vehicles - and not to the volume of vehicles:


‘Nothing has changed’ highways outlines objection to business park proposals

PUBLISHED: 20:00 20 June 2018
More than 150 people attended a planning meeting discussing proposals for a new business park at Sidford.

More than 150 people attended a planning meeting discussing proposals for a new business park at Sidford.


Highway bosses have submitted fresh opposition to a new proposed business park at Sidford as ‘nothing has changed since the last time’.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, head of highways for Devon County Council, spoke exclusively to the Herald saying the department specifically objected to the distribution element of the application.
A change of use is being sought for the agricultural site, in Two Bridges Road, to provide 8,445sqm of employment floorspace.
The plan has received 102 letters of objection ahead of the deadline today (June 15) for comments.
Councillor Hughes posted on Facebook that the council would be submitting its objections and said the news would be welcomed by residents in Sidford and Sidbury.
He said: “Nothing has changed from the last time. The distribution element was a concern last time because it would bring big lorries through narrow streets in Sidford and Sidbury. They are very narrow and just aren’t big enough for this sort of traffic. It is the wrong site for a business park, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”
Resident Jackie Green said highway’s focus on the distribution element could ‘play straight into the developers hands’.
She said: “Any down-playing of the impact of the rest of the plan, two thirds of the development, risks making it easier for the application to be approved. Worse, if the B8 [class for distribution] is deleted, it would leave a space for even more B1 buildings (office and light industrial), which require more dedicated parking spaces than B8.
“This emphasis in the Highways objection will not ‘be welcomed by all local Sidford and Sidbury residents’, as Stuart Hughes claims, nor by any other users of the Sidford-Sidbury road. The plan as a whole is wrong, not just bits of it.”
The plans state the applicants aim to create 250 jobs and have addressed concerns raised when a scheme for a larger business park were submitted in 2016.
District council ward member David Barrett said he must remain impartial as he is a member of EDDC’s development management committee, which may be involved in making a final decision about the application.
EDDC will make the final decision about the plans.

'Nothing has changed' Devon County Council submits opposition against Sidford Business Park | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald
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Climate change: the hot dark future

A new book is out:
Book review of No Immediate Danger: Volume One of Carbon Ideologies by William T. Vollman - The Washington Post
William T. Vollmann | Carbon Ideologies - YouTube

The Baffler also reviews it - and questions his brand of climate fatalism:

Wen Stephenson June 13

Carbon Ironies

William T. Vollmann on the hot dark future




Horse Valley Inferno, Utah, 2017 | Will is Bill

I’ve not yet given up believing both that the world ought to be better and that we have a duty to construct methods of improvement.
—William T. Vollmann, “Introduction,” Rising Up and Rising Down(2003)

I did my arithmetic. . . . I threw up my hands.
—William T. Vollmann, “About Batteries and Fuel Cells,” Carbon Ideologies, Volume II: No Good Alternative (2018)

ADDRESSING AN IMAGINED READER in the all-too-likely “hot dark world” of our all-too-near human future, William T. Vollmann begins his two-volume, twelve-hundred-plus-page Carbon Ideologies (the second volume of which was published last week) with a curious and characteristically audacious gambit. In the opening pages of Volume I: No Immediate Danger, as he sets out upon this tome concerning fossil fuels and nuclear energy, Vollmann explains: “I do my best to look as will the future upon the world in which I lived—namely, as surely, safely vanished. Nothing can be done to save it; therefore, nothing need be done. Hence this little book scrapes by without offering solutions. There were none; we had none.”
Some twelve hundred pages later, near the end of Volume II: No Good Alternative—having heard from coal miners and refinery workers, oil executives and nuclear engineers, fracking enthusiasts and carbon lobbyists, politicians and industry-captured regulators, residents of variously poisoned communities and even a few beleaguered activists—Vollmann beseeches his future reader to go easy on him and us. “If you could end up saying, ‘well, yes, we might have made the same mistakes as you, if we’d been lucky enough to live when you did,’ I’d feel that Carbon Ideologies had accomplished some of its purpose,” Vollmann writes. “How you judge us can mean nothing to us who are dead, but to you it might mean something, to accept that we were not all monsters; and forgiveness benefits the forgiver, so why wouldn’t I prefer you to call our doings mistakes instead of crimes?” But Vollmann suspects this is a bit much to ask. “Most likely,” he wearily admits, “you are a hard, angry person. . . . Beset by floods, droughts, diseases and insect plagues . . . fearing for your children in the face of multiplying perils, how can you feel anything better than impatient contempt for my daughter and me, who lived so wastefully for our own pleasure?”
Now, perhaps this is unfair, but it occurs to me that Vollmann’s imagined reader, sweating and hungry beside a dead, acidic ocean, may be entitled to ask why the author spent years of his comfortable (as he never tires of confessing) carbon-powered life writing a twelve-hundred-page book about energy and global warming without offering more than a dismissive hand-wave in the direction of “solutions” like solar, wind, geothermal, batteries, smart grids, etc.—at the very moment in history when such renewable energy technologies and their economics were beating all expectations. Well, it seems Mr. Vollmann simply doesn’t believe there’s anything we humans can do about a problem as big and complicated as climate change—after all, as a friendly pastor in West Virginia said to him, the Earth is so large! And even if there were, it would almost certainly require people like himself to engage politically and make some kind of sustained collective effort, which would be tedious and boring and difficult. And while it’s possible that the logically fallacious (see tu quoque) obsession with his own carbon complicity and supposed “hypocrisy” may offer him a convenient excuse for not lifting a finger, it may also be the case that he simply doesn’t want to look like the sentimental chump who falls for some hope-mongering twaddle about fighting for humanity and not giving up on each other, and all of that. Whatever the reason, he tells his misfortunate reader: “I am sorry.”
I’m no Vollmannologist, no connoisseur of Vollmanniana, and thus unqualified to judge this book’s place within the monumental Vollmann oeuvre—whether, for example, it deserves mention alongside his National Book Award-winning novel, Europe Central (2005)—so please don’t consider this a serious assessment of its literary merits. I’ll leave that to the experts. However, I do feel compelled to say that, as much as I may quibble with Vollmann’s pre-ordained conclusions about our climate future and attendant responsibilities, I quite enjoyed these volumes—honestly! he’s a damn good writer!—and I heartily recommend nearly all twelve-hundred-some-odd pages to those who may actually have the time and inclination to read them.
One of the enjoyable things about this massive work is the way Vollmann employs irony, and that bluntest implement of irony called sarcasm, throughout the volumes. He can be quite humorous. You might even call this the Infinite Jest of climate books. Indeed, at some point deep into the weeds of Carbon Ideologies—perhaps a hundred and fifty pages into the first volume’s two-hundred-page data- and table-filled “Primer” on our carbon-fueled industrial economy and lifestyles—I had to stop and ask myself whether Vollmann was not simply fucking with me (duh!), and whether I’d missed some grand joke and was gamely, gullibly soldiering on through his forest of tables with their technical definitions and calculations and the countless footnotes with their lengthy caveats and sharp asides and erudite literary-historical citations. (Perhaps a small sampling from the Primer’s table of contents will convey the texture of this book’s computational adventures: “Power Wastage by Group-Driven Machine Tools, ca. 1945 . . . Power Wastage During Machining Operations at an Unspecified Toyota Factory, ca. 2000 . . . Power Wastage by Devices in Standby Mode, 2000-2010 . . . Per Capita Power Consumption, ca. 1925 and ca. 2014, in multiples of the 1925 Japanese average . . . Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Fuel Consumption, World and Selected Countries, 1971 and 2004, in multiples of the U.S. percentage increase over that period . . . Power Generation’s Share of Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Selected Countries, 2007-14, in multiples of the 2012 European Union value . . .” et cetera ad absurdum, you get the picture.)
Surely, I said to myself, Vollmann is not so cynical as to make an elaborate literary entertainment, a kind of ironic parlor game, out of the greatest human catastrophe of all time.


Vollmann, Strand Bookstore, New York City, 2018. | YouTube

Well, no, not exactly. With some relief, I came to realize that for all the darkly comic ironies and over-the-top absurdities, Vollmann was actually engaged in an earnest work of documentary reportage—with many of his own striking photographs to accompany the text—having traveled from the radioactive environs of Fukushima, Japan, to the oil-soaked towns of Oklahoma, the coal fields of West Virginia and Bangladesh, the fracked plains of Colorado, and the Persian Gulf refineries and migrant worker camps of Dubai, interviewing people of all classes and degrees of complicity at this precipitous moment for human civilization. This is the longest and nerdiest book about climate and energy I’ve ever read (and trust me, I’ve read a few), as well as the most useless (as Vollmann would no doubt admit), but in truth there’s something admirable, even noble, about the sheer amount of time and effort—and the sheer humanity—that went into these volumes. (Personally, as one whose own father worked as a roughneck in the West Texas oil patch putting himself through a small Christian college in the late-1940s, I have sincere respect for the way Vollmann genuinely and empathetically humanizes his subjects, warts—to put it kindly—and all.)
And yet, for all that I find enjoyable and admirable in Vollmann’s project, I’m also sharply opposed to his brand of climate fatalism, which seems to be symptomatic, a kind of irresistible temptation, among intellectuals and other expensively educated types these days. And it’s this sense of utter futility and resignation in the face of our human emergency which would seem to warrant a reply. Because Vollmann is correct on some important level, but only up to a point. To borrow the phrase he used in Rising Up and Rising Down (2003), his seven-volume moral treatise on violence—which, along with Poor People (2007), he considers a companion to Carbon Ideologies—his “moral calculus” here is fundamentally flawed, based as it is on a common misunderstanding or mischaracterization of the climate catastrophe.

Climate change has a way of bringing out the moralist in the most hardened cynic and the most complacent fatalist (believe me, friends, I have some experience in this area), so it should be no surprise that Vollmann—who, after all, is the author of the aforementioned seven-volume treatise—is concerned with the moral quandaries and complexities of our planetary predicament. (In fact, there’s even a section of Rising Up and Rising Down, referenced in Carbon Ideologies, in which he considers the possible justifications for violence in “defense of the Earth.” It’s complicated.)
And there’s a good bit that Vollmann gets right, or so it seems to me, in terms of the moral calculus on climate. This is especially the case in his vivid, often affecting, unerringly humane portraits of ordinary people caught up in the carbon system—and nowhere more so than in West Virginia, where the people he meets, at all social levels, have been literally poisoned by that system, indoctrinated and deceived by its ideologues, sacrificed on the altar of limitless profits and the so-called patriotic duty to “keep the lights on.” He knows there’s no moral equivalence between these folks and the executives, lobbyists, politicians, and revolving-door regulators who do everything in their considerable power—including pitiful appeals to victimhood—to keep the system humming along. So it’s satisfying when he drops all sarcasm near the end of the book and lays it on the line:
Those who found themselves compelled by economics to be complicit in the production, distribution and consumption of harmful energies . . . were not especially at fault. For them, fossil fuels constituted sheer subsistence. . . . Even less could I accuse those who had not been educated to understand the almost invisibly approaching misery.
However, I began to believe that those who selfishly, maliciously or with gross negligence did harm ought to be singled out, shamed and maybe even . . . punished.—What constituted gross negligence? A parent who left a loaded gun in reach of a baby was surely responsible for the result. Those West Virginia officials, Colorado lobbyists and Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce types who publicly advanced the agendas of their chosen fossil fuels but refused to even acknowledge questions about global warming stood convicted, in my mind at least, of authoritarian partisanship. I would have heard their side; they were not even willing to tell me theirs, much less ask about mine. And they had power. . . . These are the ones, my friend. These are the ones who laid you low.
(Given such exemplary moral clarity, I found it puzzling that Vollmann let one of his most important interviewees, former ConocoPhillips CEO Archie Dunham, entirely off the hook, failing to mention that Dunham—though apparently a very warm and courteous man who welcomed Vollmann into his home overlooking the Pacific Ocean—served as a director of the American Petroleum Institute. The API, if you don’t know, is one of the principal arms of the carbon lobby and the decades-long campaign to mislead the public on climate science and obstruct any useful policies to rein in emissions. At the very least, it would seem that Mr. Dunham, no doubt a very nice person, was a willing accessory or onlooker to these unprecedented political crimes against humanity.)
Nevertheless, for a writer so finely attuned to the nuances of moral reasoning, Vollmann displays a surprisingly simplistic and binary view of the climate catastrophe.

Yes, of course, we’re fucked. (Though it’s important to specify the “we” in this formulation, because the global poor, the disenfranchised, the young, and the yet-to-be-born are certifiably far more fucked than such affluent, white, middle-aged Americans as Vollmann and myself.) But here’s the thing: with climate change as with so much else, all fuckedness is relative. Climate catastrophe is not a binary win or losesolution or no-solutionfucked or not-fucked situation. Just how fucked we/they will be—that is, what kind of civilization, or any sort of social justice, will be possible in the coming centuries or decades—depends on many things, including all sorts of historic, built-in systemic injustices we know all too well, and any number of contingencies we can’t foresee. But most of all it depends on what we do right now, in our lifetimes. And by that I mean: what we do politically, not only on climate but across the board, because large-scale political action—the kind that moves whole countries and economies in ways commensurate with the scale and urgency of the situation—has always been the only thing that matters here. (I really don’t care about your personal carbon footprint. I mean, please do try to lower it, because that’s a good thing to do, but fussing and guilt-tripping over one’s individual contribution to climate change is neither an intellectually nor a morally serious response to a global systemic crisis. That this still needs to be said in 2018 is, to say the least, somewhat disappointing.)
As experts (and other people, like me) have been saying for years now, it is almost certainly too late to prevent highly disruptive and, in many places, catastrophic climate change within this century, with all the human misery and death that will bring. But it’s also the case that rigorous analyses (though you won’t find them in Carbon Ideologies) show how most of the world’s energy systems could in fact be radically decarbonized in the coming decades; that the barriers are not technological or economic; and that there are now signs of the political and economic winds shifting globally, in spite of (and in response to) Donald Trump’s election. Are they shifting fast enough? Not even close. Is the carbon lobby still doing everything it can to obstruct and delay? Yes, by all means. And even if the world somehow miraculously moves as fast as possible between now and mid-century, as scientists are calling for, will it prevent dangerous and destabilizing climate disruption for centuries and possibly millennia to come? Probably not. In fact, achieving the vaunted Paris Agreement goals would actually require “negative emissions” technologies, capable of pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere on a vast scale, which remain largely speculative (not to say fantasy).
So, yes, Vollmann and other doomists are right that it’s a no-win situation—depending on what you mean by “win.” If you mean “stopping” or “solving” climate change and preserving the world as we’ve known it, then the climate fight was “lost” a long time ago, maybe before it began. And yet science also tells us that, even at this late date, some versions of “losing” could look far worse than others. We can still lose less badly! Not the most inspiring battle cry, perhaps, but when you understand the stakes—human survival—still a cause worth lifting a finger for.
Scientists don’t really know with precision (which means William T. Vollmann doesn’t really know) where the atmospheric tipping points actually are, and whether we’ve already crossed some of them or soon will—see, for example, the accelerating collapse of Arctic sea ice and the melting permafrost—making worst-case scenarios unstoppable. Climate experts will tell you that every fraction of a degree of warming we prevent could be well worth the effort. So is it too late to prevent many catastrophic impacts across much of the world? Almost certainly. Is it too late to prevent the worst-case scenarios and thus even greater suffering of billions more human beings? Maybe. Maybe not. We don’t know. And that’s the point. As for the politics, maybe the obstacles really are insurmountable. But maybe they’re not. History shows that revolutionary change, both political and technological, is almost never foreseen—or even believed possible—by those living in the historical moment. Again, that’s the point. We don’t know exactly when it will be “too late” (“too late for what?,” we should always ask), or what may be possible if we keep pushing hard enough.
If you’re comfortable throwing up your hands and doing nothing in the face of this kind of uncertainty, very well; it’s your choice. Vollmann won’t think any less of you, and quite honestly, neither will I. Political action, sustained commitment, sacrifice—these are a lot to ask of anyone. But please don’t take moral comfort from assurances that there is nothing to be done. There’s plenty.
Which is one reason it’s too bad that Vollmann, though he does profile a few seemingly isolated activists fighting the Carbon Goliaths in West Virginia and Colorado and Bangladesh, never acknowledges the existence of the global grassroots climate movement that has become a serious force over the past decade. In case you’re unaware, this is the bottom-up movement that has not only stopped fossil-fuel mega-projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, Pacific Northwest coal export terminals, and regional fracked-gas infrastructure in the Northeast, with thousands of ordinary citizens putting their bodies on the line—and hundreds of thousands coming into the streets—to do so. It’s also the movement that’s pushed global institutions with more than $6 trillion in assets to divest from the fossil-fuel industry, fundamentally altering the conversation on climate and carbon—bringing concepts like “stranded assets” and “carbon bubble” into the mainstream (but not into Carbon Ideologies)—putting the industry’s political culpability and its criminally reckless business model front and center, even beginning to hurt its bottom line. These are no small accomplishments.
But there’s plenty to be done, too, for those who can’t see themselves as climate activists—because the basic political struggles for democracy and human rights, in this country and around the world, are as central to our climate future as the fights to keep carbon in the ground. For those who must try to adapt and live through what’s coming—including Vollmann’s daughter and my own kids—there won’t be any climate justice, or any justice at all, no matter what the global temperature may be, if we lose our democracy.
Unfortunately, many of the sort of educated, literate folks Vollmann is writing for don’t seem to understand all this. Or maybe they don’t want to understand. Perhaps they prefer to look away. It’s so much easier to tell oneself the game is up, that nothing can be done, that nothing ever could have been done, so why bother? It’s perversely comforting to wallow in tragic-ironic guilt over one’s carbon complicity, using it as a pathetic excuse.
The fact that there’s no purity and no “solution” (a word that should be struck from the climate lexicon) in the simplistic binary sense doesn’t mean that nothing can or should be done, even at this late date, even in the face of catastrophe on some unknowable schedule and scale—especially if you care at all about your fellow human inhabitants of this planet, as William T. Vollmann most clearly, and unironically, does. If nothing else, just holding onto our humanity as we sweat in the dark ought to keep us busy.
Wen Stephenson is the author of What We’re Fighting for Now Is Each Other: Dispatches From the Front Lines of Climate Justice and writes now and then for The Nation. A former editor at The Atlantic and The Boston Globe, where he edited the Sunday “Ideas” section, he has written about climate, politics, and culture for publications such as SlateThe New York Times Book ReviewGristThe Boston Phoenix (RIP), and The Los Angeles Review of Books. Find him on Twitter: @wenstephenson



Carbon Ironies | Wen Stephenson
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