Friday, 31 March 2017

Offshore wind energy from kite power

Whilst fracking is on the up, up north:
Fracking in the UK: Opposed nationwide, overruled in Westminster | New Economics Foundation

... there are of course alternatives:
Futures Forum: Solar, wind, fracking: "We seem simultaneously to be mismanaging the exploitation of three key decentralised energy sources."

Wind power is often dismissed as 'ugly':
Futures Forum: "In praise of wind turbines": man-made landscapes

But it is actually proving more popular:
Futures Forum: Blown away: "Let's put the wind back in the sails of onshore wind"

And an alternative to the turbine is the kite:

Kite Power on the BBC1 "The One Show" - YouTube

The main player in the UK is KPS:
Kite Power Systems Wind Energy

Kite Power Solutions Ltd - YouTube

Knowle relocation project: Cabinet to consider 'options' as costs spiral even further >>> Wednesday 5th March

Next Wednesday, the political leadership at East Devon will decide where to go next with their relocation project:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: Cabinet to consider 'options' >>> Wednesday 5th March

One of the main points to be made is cost:
> the cost of getting this far:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: What are the costs to date and what are the projected costs?
> and the cost it would all come to should it happen:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: further hidden costs and out-of-date documentation
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: on being 'cost neutral' and 'fit for purpose' and asbestos free >>> comparing the Knowle and Exmouth Town Hall sites
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project >>> still many questions re costs >>> 'flogging off at a huge loss'
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project >>> still many questions re costs ... and "failing to provide full and open scrutiny over how taxpayers’ money is being spent"
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project >>> still many questions re costs

The story is on the front page of the latest Herald:

And here is the story in full:

Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

The future of Devon's hospitals >>> demonstration >>> You Can’t Fool Us Day >>> Saturday 1st April at 10am >>> at the Sidmouth Victoria Hospital

Tomorrow sees demonstrations across the county:
Futures Forum: The future of Devon's hospitals >>> demonstration >>> You Can’t Fool Us Day >>> Saturday 1st April at 10am

Including in Sidmouth, as reported in today's Herald:

Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

Brexit: and a Cornish passport

As of Wednesday, passports into Cornwall were being issued:

Cornish passports handed out on Devon border on Brexit Day

By Colleen_Smith  |  Posted: March 30, 2017

A new Passport to Cornwall was being handed out on the Devon border on the day Brexit was triggered.
The passport allows its keeper to 'pass freely, without let or hindrance', within the county.
Passport To Cornwall is actually a small guide to the duchy produced by Cornwall-lover Phil Billington and published by Polperro Heritage Press.
As Brexit was officially triggered in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, Phil handed out copies at the Cornish border on the Tamar Bridge.
The book, which looks like a real passport, has its own "Folennow Stampys Tremengummyas" - the passport stamp pages. Mr Billington encourages holders to take their copy to tourist information centres to get them stamped.

Cornish passports handed out on Devon border on Brexit Day | Devon Live

See also:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Cornwall 'getting what it deserves'
Futures Forum: Brexit: and a question mark over funding for Cornwall
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Cornwall
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Cornish independence

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Knowle relocation project: Cabinet to consider 'options' >>> Wednesday 5th March

The District Council's political leadership did not get what it wanted from its planning committee back in December:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: planning application REFUSED by District Council >>> further reports

It is now seeking to move forward - and will consider various options at a Cabinet meeting next Wednesday 5th March. Although it seems to have already made up its mind, as the agenda states:

Office Relocation Decisions

Following the refusal of planning permission and appreciating the continued strategic and operational drivers for relocation, the Office Accommodation Executive Group tasked officers with taking a refreshed review of the Council’s options.  

1. Cabinet recommends to Full Council that; 

i. Option 1, as detailed in the report, is adopted and that the Council proceeds with the construction of a new HQ building at Honiton Heathpark, and 
ii. The Deputy Chief Executive – Development, Regeneration and Partnerships is delegated authority, in consultation with the Office Accommodation Executive Group, to commence works and deliver the new HQ building. 
iii. A budget is agreed of £8,692,000 to provide a new HQ building at Honiton Heathpark, which when added to the approved Exmouth Town Hall refurbishment budget of £1,669,000 gives a total gross budget of £10,361,000. 

2. If Cabinet agrees that it wishes to relocate to a new HQ in Honiton then Cabinet is asked whether it wishes to recommend approval of a further sum of £225,000 to fund the addition of a direct access road to the new HQ building past the East Devon Business Centre This is a more direct approach to the building rather than bringing traffic through the Heathpark business park south of the building and does not affect the conclusions in this report in relation to viability and ranking of options for the sale of the Knowle site. 


The combined Overview and Scrutiny Cttees will also consider this on 18th April:
Committees and meetings - East Devon

Here is comment today from the Save Our Sidmouth site:

EDDC Cabinet to agree Knowle option at next week’s meeting.

March 29, 2017 by sidmouthsid Leave a comment

East Devon District Council has been obliged to rethink its relocation ‘ambition’, since its Development Management Committee (DMC) rejected Pegasus Life’s planning application for Knowle. New options will be discussed and decided at Cabinet* next Wednesday (5th April, 2017, 5.30pm ), for consideration at a special Joint Overview, Scrutiny and Audit & Governance meeting (18th April, 6pm).

Public may attend and make audio or video recordings of the meetings, which will be held in Knowle Council Chamber.

SOS understands that one option for discussion is for a retrenched EDDC HQ in the modern parts of Knowle, plus the Chamber and Members’ Lounge. A second smaller office would be in the refurbished Exmouth Town Hall.

*Current Cabinet membership, as listed on EDDC website:

Iain Chubb, Conservative
Paul Diviani, Conservative – Leader of the council
Jill Elson, Conservative
Andrew Moulding, Conservative – Deputy leader of the council
Geoff Pook, Independent
Philip Skinner, Conservative
Ian Thomas, Conservative
Phil Twiss, Conservative
Eileen Wragg, Liberal Democrats
Tom Wright, Conservative

EDDC Cabinet to agree Knowle option at next week’s meeting. | Save Our Sidmouth

District Council local housing company >>> "the ‘huge risk’ in speculating on the property market"

The District Council is considering putting its own housing company together:
Futures Forum: District Council sets up its own Local Housing Company

As reported in the local press:
EDDC plans for housing company - View News

The national press is reporting on other councils' plans:

How one council is beating Britain's housing crisis

Fancy a three-bed semi with a garden for £152,000? Or rent at less than £500 per month? Sheffield is showing other local authorities how to build again

Shirley Eckhardt, who lives in Cutler’s View (pictured), says of her new house: ‘It’s so modern – all the units are fitted, the cooker, freezer. The back garden is very large.’ Photograph: Persuasion PR

Julia Kollewe Saturday 25 March 2017 

In 2015, England’s local authorities built fewer than 3,000 new homes, just a tiny fraction of the estimated 250,000 new homes needed every year to meet demand. But one council has begun building again in volume, in what some see as a model for tackling the housing crisis.

On the outskirts of Sheffield, hundreds of new homes are springing up, built by the council to space standards that have all but disappeared in the private sector. New residents – the majority are 25-35 year olds – say they are impressed by the designs and spaciousness, and enjoy their close proximity to the city.

But this is not a return to the era of 1950s and 1960s council building. What Sheffield Housing Company (SHC) is doing is partnering with contractors to build low-cost homes for first-time buyers and families alongside houses and flats to rent at affordable prices, and with tenants better protected.

People have already moved into homes at Cutler’s View, and Brearley Springs and Brearley Forge, named after Harry Brearley, the inventor of stainless steel. Of 325 completed homes, 237 have been sold so far. The semi-detached houses – all with gardens – are selling from £99,995 for a two-bed, £152,00 for a three-bed and just over £200,000 for a four-bed, with 88 of them for affordable rent or shared ownership. There are plans for 24 apartments.

Affordable rent is based on 80% of market value – for example, a three-bedroom semi-detached house with drive and large back garden is around £115 per week. There are no letting fees, and tenants’ rights are the same as for traditional council tenants. Allocation is based on housing needs.

Sheffield has managed to do what the private sector, on its own, failed to do: build low-cost housing in areas that until now have been regarded as derelict or run-down.

How one council is beating Britain's housing crisis | Money | The Guardian

However, it does not look as though East Devon's new housing company will actually deliver on affordable housing:
Futures Forum: Local Housing Companies >>> 'It is early days for this new model of house-building, but with their seeming commitment to quality design, the omens are promising for architects seeking work in the sector. Whether this model can bridge the gap in affordable housing provision remains to be seen."

Because, not only will the District Council be entering the housing market to make profits to fill its empty coffers - but that market is full of potential risk:

‘EDDC housing company could develop anywhere in country’, warns Sidmouth councillor

PUBLISHED: 09:31 21 March 2017

Stephen Sumner

A housing company that could allow council bosses to better respond to market pressures has received early support – but a Sidmouth councillor argues there are ‘huge risks’ to taxpayers that need to be tightly controlled.
Agenda papers say an East Devon District Council-owned (EDDC) company, free from red tape, could play a key role in increasing supply of homes and meeting demand when private developers fall short.

However, Councillor Cathy Gardner raised concerns that it is not a ‘local’ housing company and will in fact be able to develop anywhere in the country.

She said: “EDDC has been good at looking after its council houses, but this isn’t about developing council houses. They may decide they want to build elsewhere in the country where they can make more profit. That might be all right if it was limited to building ‘affordable’ housing here, but that’s not written into the terms.

“It needs to answer so many questions – is the company being set up to meet housing needs in East Devon or is it more about profit, because it can take that money into its general funds? Where is the money coming from to set it up? EDDC may have fantastically good intentions, but the devil is in the details.”

Cllr Gardner also voiced concerns about the ‘huge risk’ in speculating on the property market and said it is dependent on house prices remaining high.

Cabinet members backed the creation of East Devon Homes last week and officers will now prepare an initial business plan, identify the first projects and report back to the council.

If approved, the company will be financed by EDDC and any profits would come back to the authority. It could sell land to the company at market value – or potentially gift it – and then borrow money to finance projects.

The report says the company, run by a board of directors, will be able to operate on commercial terms, free of the ‘continual interference’ from central government.

Supporting the proposals, Councillor Jill Elson, EDDC’s portfolio holder for homes and communities, said: “This presents a wonderful opportunity for the council to play a more active part in the local housing market.

“We have researched the proposal carefully and fully, looked at the risks and rewards, and decided that the local housing company model is a suitable model for the council to deliver its housing ambitions.

“We are seeing high levels of demand for housing in the area and see this as a way of increasing supply consistent with the Government’s growth agenda.”

‘EDDC housing company could develop anywhere in country’, warns Sidmouth councillor - News - Sidmouth Herald

The future of Devon's hospitals >>> demonstration >>> You Can’t Fool Us Day >>> Saturday 1st April at 10am

Sidmouth's hosptial might be 'saved' - but for how long and what about the other Devon hospitals?
Futures Forum: The future of Sidmouth's hospital >>> secured - but other community hospitals to lose beds >>> more reports

This Saturday, campaigners will be showing their mettle:
SOHS Events Calendar 

As they have done before:
Futures Forum: The future of Devon's hospitals >>> demonstration >>> >>> Save Our Hospital Services: Exeter Sees Red Day >>> Saturday 3rd December 

Things will be happening across the County - including Sidmouth:

SOHS: You Can’t Fool Us Day - Red Lines at East and South Devon local Hospitals

Sat 1st Apr 10:00 - 14:00
Royal Devon and Exeter HospitalBarrack Rd, Exeter EX2, UK map 
Red Line events:
Community hospital Red Lines -
Seaton 10.00 
Sidmouth 10.00 
Okehampton 10.00 
Whipton, Exeter 10.30 then to Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital at 12 noon 
Honiton 11.00 
Torbay 13.00 Maternity Unit 
Paignton 14.00 Lowes Bridge Entrance 
Ottery St Mary 14.00

SOHS: You Can’t Fool Us Day - Red Lines at East and South Devon local Hospitals

And here's the poster:

Save Our Hospital Services Devon public group | Facebook

Brexit: and what lies ahead for fishing policy... or for whales

Last month, a huge humpback whale was seen off the South Devon coast:

Whale Slapton: Massive 25ft long humpback spotted off Devon coast sparking fears creature could be 'in trouble' - but marine experts insist animal is fine - The Sun
Humpback whale spotted in Devon believed to have gone back out to sea safely | Plymouth Herald

It has raised all sorts of issues, as a piece in the latest New Statesman notes:

Plastic pollution of the seas:
The UK’s last resident pod of killer whales looks likely to die out after high levels of PCB chemicals have stopped the females reproducing. In Norway, a stranded whale was found to have over 30 plastic bags blocking its digestive system.
See also:

Futures Forum: Saving the oceans from plastic pollution >>>

The effects of climate change:
“Climate change and the threat of over-fishing mean that where fish are moving to is more unpredictable that it has ever been.”
See also:
Futures Forum: Climate change: and coastal communities >>> "We need to make sure businesses and communities are more resilient."

An uncertain future for the fishing industry:
Some UK politicians have demanded that a Brexit deal include blocking foreign vessels from fishing in British waters. With 58 per cent of UK-caught fish caught by non-British fleets, it is argued that a ban would benefit the UK industry. Yet as migration patterns becoming more erratic, Will McCallum from Greenpeace is sceptical. "Re-territorialising our waters would be an absolute potential disaster because we just don’t know where fish stocks are going to move." 
See also:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and empty promises over fishing rights

How Devon's humpback whale is dredging up the politics of the sea

The arrival of a humpback whale at Slapton Sands has caused a local splash. But the history of the village has a warning for those who think of the sea as spectacle alone.


28th March 2017

The Devon coast road from Dartmouth to Torcross is as pretty as it is treacherous. After winding through a cliff-top village, the road ahead falls away to reveal a giant lake – the Slapton Ley - flanked by green hills on one side and ocean on the other.

Tourists (or "grockles") gasp at the view and, in recent weeks, even locals have been staring out to sea - where a giant humpback whale has taken up residence in the bay.

Not seen at Slapton in living memory, the whale has swum into rural stardom. Hundreds have lined the beach with cameras and telescopes. The nearby pub and farm shop have seen levels of trade only usually enjoyed in the summer.

According to Keith Pugh, (the ice-cream-van-man who has been keeping the crowds supplied with tea) one lady from Plymouth caught the bus here every day for six weeks just to catch a single glimpse. That’s a four-hour round trip.

If this all sounds a bit fishy, that's because it is. Experts believe that the whale is feeding on the bumper numbers of small fish and mackerel that have been reported in the area. But even these are behaving in unexpected ways. “The mackerel are further north than usual for this time of year,” says Mark Darlaston, a photographer who first identified the whale as a humpback (and jokingly named it after storm “Doris”).

So what is the humpback up to, so far south of its northern feeding grounds? And should its presence be seen as a sign of recovery - for whales and UK waters in general?

Not yet, say conservationists. And not if the history of Slapton is anything to go by.

Troubled waters

Villagers at Torcross, at the far end of Slapton sands, are familiar with secrets from the deep. In 1944, a military training in the bay went horribly wrong, when nearly 1,000 American servicemen were drowned. The tragedy was hushed up for decades.

But the greatest threat to the community comes from mismanagement of the sea itself. On 26 January 1917 the entire neighbouring village of Hallsands was swallowed by a storm. The tragedy was partially manmade. The underwater sandbanks, which had helped protect the shore from longshore drift, had been thoughtlessly dredged to supply building materials for the Plymouth docks. Some 660,000 tonnes of material were removed and never replaced.

The results of that plunder are still felt at Slapton today. In 2014, a gale-force storm swept away part of the road that runs between the sea and the ley. Just last year, the seawall at Torcross crumbled, as the protective beach beneath was carried away by waves.

Into the Brexit deeps

So much in our oceans is tightly connected to human activity. If whales are a rare sight on the UK coast, it is partly because of the human campaign against them for many years in the form of whaling. According to Sally Hamilton from the conservation charity Orca, the 1980s moratorium on whaling has helped some populations to recover.

But others are still fighting to survive in the face of pollution, noise, and over-fishing. The UK’s last resident pod of killer whales looks likely to die out after high levels of PCB chemicals have stopped the females reproducing. In Norway, a stranded whale was found to have over 30 plastic bags blocking its digestive system.

There is also no certainty that the glut of fish that the whale is feeding on will come again next year. “There is still masses we don’t understand about the ocean,” says Will McCallum from Greenpeace, “Climate change and the threat of over-fishing mean that where fish are moving to is more unpredictable that it has ever been.”

And it's not just whales that could get caught out. Some UK politicians have demanded that a Brexit deal include blocking foreign vessels from fishing in British waters.

With 58 per cent of UK-caught fish caught by non-British fleets, it is argued that a ban would benefit the UK industry. Yet as migration patterns becoming more erratic, McCallum is sceptical. "Re-territorialising our waters would be an absolute potential disaster because we just don’t know where fish stocks are going to move," he says.

Out of the Blues

At Torcross, the sea has long been a source of worry. Claire, the landlady at the Start Bay Inn, recalls the many storms that have pelted the seafront pub since she was a child. Just last year she was “running from one end to the other” trying to sweep the water out, while bottles rattled and the chip-fryer shook.

So it was perhaps unsurprising that news of the whale’s arrival first met with local concern. “I can’t bear to see it,” one woman tells me. She had read in the press that it had come so close in to shore to “beach” itself and die, and heard rumours it was in mourning for a lost calf.

But thanks to the investigations of Mark Darlaston and the divers at the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, such fake whale-news has been corrected - and its visits are fast becoming a source of wider hope. The owner of the Stokely farmshop has joked about replacing it with a decoy “nessie” when it leaves. Claire cannot wait to put its picture on the front of her menus (where the picture is currently of the recent storm).

It is not yet known what lies ahead for Brexit fishing policy, or for whales. But dip into the history of the village of Torcross, and it's clear that understanding and protecting the sea is inseparable from protecting ourselves.

How Devon's humpback whale is dredging up the politics of the sea

Meanwhile, there is debate over the future of fishing:
Will Brexit spell the end of fishing quotas? | openDemocracy
UK’s fishing industry has made the case for Brexit
Fishing body delivers Brexit message on the eve of Article 50 | Press and Journal

And there is plenty of debate too over the 'Iceland' and 'Norway' models - which is very much about fishing:
Iceland government may revive EU membership debate - BBC News
Anne Elizabeth Stie and Jarle Trondal on how Norway hasn’t cracked life outside the EU - Culture - The New European

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

A solution to our housing problems >>> >>> rethink the economics of land and housing >>> >>> and rethink the 1947 Town and Country Act

We can question the value of the Green Belt:

And we can question the validity of the 70-year-old Town and Country Act which laid the ground for much of this:

Toby Lloyd is a director of Shelter and was one of the witnesses in this evening's Moral Maze which looked at the Green Belt; he has also co-written a book which is very critical of an out-of-date planning system:

Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing — theft and freedom

An analysis of land as the overlooked problem at the heart of an overheated market

March 13, 2017 by: Review by Kate Allen

Property values have outpaced growth and incomes in many major economies in the past three decades, particularly the UK. At its root, the problem is land. That is the argument that the authors of this book seek to advance; it would sell many more copies if it were titled This Is Why You Can’t Afford To Buy A House. As it is, Rethinking The Economics Of Land And Housing is not an appealing title but this is a very appealing book.

Written by a trio of economists and policy wonks — Josh Ryan-Collins and Laurie Macfarlane work for the New Economics Foundation, while Toby Lloyd works for Shelter, a homelessness charity, it is a lucid exposition of the dysfunctional British housing market.

The authors set out how housing markets around the world have changed in the past three decades, and why we should all be worried.

Since the early 1980s, UK banks’ mortgage lending has risen from 20 per cent of gross domestic product to more than 60 per cent; in the same period lending to non-financial firms remained at 20-30 per cent of GDP.

Meanwhile, in the mid-1970s, more than 80 per cent of UK housing subsidies were supply side: intended to encourage construction. By 2000 more than 85 per cent of subsidies were on the demand side, such as helping buyers into ownership.

It is no surprise, perhaps, that three-quarters of the growth in house prices between 1950 and 2012 were due to rising land prices rather than rising construction costs. The UK is not alone in this. Across advanced economies land value increases were responsible for 81 per cent of house price growth in the same period.

Something significant has changed in the housing market in recent decades, and the authors feel this is insufficiently appreciated by mainstream economics. Land is distinguished from other forms of capital because of its unique characteristics: it is fixed in quantity and does not depreciate. In fact, as the population grows it tends to appreciate.

As a consequence land is, the authors say, both “theft and freedom:” theft because possessing it necessarily deprives others of something without which they cannot do; freedom because its possession — with secure title and the right to sell — brings economic power. The ability to use land as collateral formed the basis of modern finance, via the creation of credit. As Winston Churchill said in 1909, “Land monopoly is not the only monopoly which exists, but it is by far the greatest of monopolies — it is a permanent monopoly, and it is the mother of all other forms of monopoly.”

The creators of Britain’s postwar system understood this: the 1947 Town And Country Planning Act took an approach which, in addition to the system of planning controls, gave the state a significant role as an actor in the land and development market.

From the 1970s onwards that part of government’s role was lost. Now Britain is “almost alone as an advanced nation” in “not having any major state investment or infrastructure bank”, the authors say.

Alongside this withdrawal by the state, housing-based financial instruments emerged, which fuelled a positive feedback loop between house and land prices and mortgage credit, crowding out business investment.

The link that has emerged between house price rises and consumer sentiment means that spiralling credit and property values feed into the economy, making nations’ wealth perilously sensitised to housing-related shocks.

The authors speculate that this financialisation of the housing market could be a key contributor to secular stagnation and the productivity puzzle. Ultimately, they say, the 19th century system of land economy, in which most people rented from a small number of wealthy landowners, seems to be reasserting itself; 20th century mass home ownership and state intervention look like a blip.

What to do about this issue remains problematic. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that in the absence of radical political ambition, the most likely future is continued polarisation.

Little will change until there is either a price crash, or extreme economic inequality results in political crisis.

The reviewer is an FT political correspondent

Rethinking The Economics Of Land And Housing by Josh Ryan-Collins, Toby Lloyd and Laurie Macfarlane, Zed Books, RRP £14.99, 253 pages

Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing — theft and freedom - Financial Times 

Many of the same issues were considered over the weekend on Radio 4's Archive on Four:

Seventy Years in the Planning

Archive on 4

Will Self walks the London green belt in search of the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act which optimistically tried to end the post-war British conflict between field and city. He retraces a countryside ramble he took with his father, the journalist, town planner and political scientist Peter Self - a leading exponent of the principles enshrined in the '47 Act. 

Will argues that the public consensus to build a New Jerusalem has been squandered in the past seventy years, leading to the present day housing crisis. 

He goes back to first principles and argues that the offer made in 1947 by the Minister of Town and Country Planning, Lewis Silkin to build a better Britain is as relevant today as it was then. 

Will says that if it was an opportunity missed, then the fault doesn't lie exclusively with the planning system, rather with our lack of desire to make the planning system work.


A solution to our housing problems >>> question the Morality of the Green Belt

Many of us want to preserve our green belt:
Futures Forum: Persimmon, Sidmouth and greenfield sites
Futures Forum: Green Belts: the Seaton-Colyford 'green wedge'... a fourth application is refused, preventing 'harmful encroachment of urban sprawl into the open countryside'
Futures Forum: The Save Our Green Spaces campaign: greenbelt under threat

But there are arguments for building on the green belt:
Futures Forum: Building on the green belt: the case for
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems: build on the green belt: part two

As well as against:
Futures Forum: Greenfield vs brownfield >>> "There are enough suitable brownfield sites for at least 1 million new homes."
Futures Forum: "Waste of Space" campaign to identify alternative sites: "More housing is needed in England and we support the Government’s policy that brownfield land should be used for new homes."

These issues were discussed on Radio 4 this evening - on the Moral Maze which went to Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Faversham in Kent:

Morality of the Green Belt

When it comes to talking about home ownership in this country it quickly divides in to the "have's" and "have not's." According to the OECD fewer than half of low to middle income families are now able to afford to buy a house and some campaigners estimate that, by 2020, families earning the National Living Wage would be unable to afford to buy homes in 98 per cent of the country. 

The answer, according to many, is radical deregulation of the planning laws and building on the greenbelt. 8 million new family homes could be built if just 2% of the greenbelt was handed over to developers. 

To those threatened with the prospect of bulldozers arriving in a field near their home, it will mean urban sprawl and the destruction of large swathes of natural countryside so that builders can make a quick profit. 

Economists argue that when the greenbelt was created in 1955 it arbitrarily distorted the market for building land. 

But the current housing crisis is about moral issues too and in such a polarising debate it's vital that we're able to identify them to get the root of the issue. 

How do we draw the line between legitimate self-interest and Luddite nimbyism? 

People talk a lot about inter-generational justice, but do we have an absolute moral duty to provide for the next generation whatever the cost? 

How do we choose between conflicting moral goods? 

We all love a beautiful pastoral scene, but does the physical landscape have a moral value beyond how it can be used in the service of mankind? 

Obviously, having somewhere to live is a fundamental need, but is home ownership a moral good and even a human right? 

Panellists George Buskell, Poppy Cleary, Maddie Groeger-Wilson and Jane Fidge.

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Morality of the Green Belt

Quarrying in East Devon > second Straitgate planning application considered

Earlier this month, the developer at the proposed quarry near Ottery put in another application:
Futures Forum: Quarrying in East Devon > second Straitgate planning application submitted

The group campaigning against this have posted several new pieces:
Straitgate Action Group: What’s AI got to hide?
Straitgate Action Group: This is what’s at stake
Straitgate Action Group: PTES “strongly objects” to Straitgate development

Meanwhile, the plans have been considered by Ottery Town Council:
Council Meetings - Ottery St Mary TC

Objections raised to latest Straitgate quarry plan

PUBLISHED: 09:39 28 March 2017

Straitgate quarry plans aerial view

Plans for a 100-acre quarry on Ottery’s outskirts have been labelled as ‘unsustainable’ and ‘irresponsible’ by objectors.
Residents and councillors spoke out at a planning meeting this week about proposals by Aggregate Industries (AI) to extract up to 1.5million tonnes of sand and gravel at Straitgate Farm.
The application also includes the restoration to agricultural land and the temporary change of use of a residential dwelling to a quarry office and welfare facility.
AI proposes to carry the extraction out over a period of 10-12 years and make a ‘maximum’ of 86 deliveries a day.
In a report to the council, Councillor Roger Giles said the proposals would result in lorries travelling 2.5million miles - raising concerns of traffic on the B3174.
He said: “The B3174 road between Daisymount and Ottery St Mary is by far the busiest road to Ottery. The town council has very serious concerns about the proposals to have laden lorries exiting the site and turning right across a heavy flow of fast moving traffic, and travelling slowly uphill along Exeter Road to Daisymount.”
Cllr Giles said the town council ‘strongly objected’ to the plans as there may be a flooding and pollution risk.
In its revised plans, AI proposes to send material from Straitgate to Hillhead Quarry, near Uffculme, instead of Blackhill Quarry, near Woodbury, for processing and distribution.
Before the meeting, protester Monica Mortimore, from Straitgate Action Group, said the number of lorries on the road would equate to one every three-and-a-half minutes for 10-12 years.
She added: “At a time when there are so many concerns about air pollution and climate change, these plans are not only unsustainable, but utterly irresponsible. Aggregate Industries have dropped their controversial plans to process on Woodbury Common, but these new plans make no sense either.”
The issue of traffic was also a concern for Toadpit Lane resident Gwen Martin, who told the meeting she previously lived near a quarry and moved to West Hill to ‘get away from it all’ and wanted to enjoy the ‘peace and quiet.’
She added: “A lot of people in Toadpit Lane are not in their prime of life and it’s difficult to get on to that road, especially as there have been a lot more houses built down in Ottery and it all goes very, very fast on that road. Now, if I have to compete with a whole lot of lorries coming out right opposite me, will I be able to get up the lane?
“It was noise all day, every day and night, seven days-a-week. There was a lot of light pollution because it was lit up and it was the dust pollution and everything.
“If we wanted to live in a big city, we could have gone and lived in a big city, but we’ve come to West Hill because there’s no street lights – it’s lovely and dark and you can see the stars and hear the birds and we will now have all this pollution.
“The cars will want to go faster on Exeter Road - they will want to pass them to get up faster and want to pass going down. So there will be accidents and that’s what we are worried about.”
A decision will be made by Devon County Council at a future date.

Objections raised to latest Straitgate quarry plan - News - Sidmouth Herald

See also:
Futures Forum: Quarrying in East Devon > Straitgate approved for inclusion in Devon's mineral's plan > further reports
Futures Forum: Quarrying in East Devon > and The Big Polluting Cement Giant