Friday, 23 May 2008

Letter to the West Sussex Gazette - Not in My Grandchildren's Back Yard


I find it galling that the Ford Eco Town proposers' standard response to their critics is that we are NIMBY's lacking 'Vision'.

So let me say that I do have a vision for this green Sussex land. It is a century's time in May 2108, and those reading this letter are here no more; but gloriously the skylarks swirl in the fields above the land, a ban on developing agricultural land having brought these fantastic birds back from danger. There will always be children; and now a group of kids are running across the fields to the farm shop. Fields we would recognise, though the footpaths are marked more clearly for cycles and pushchairs and walkers - and so used far more than today. In the fields around the crops are growing where they have always grown; all organic now of course. But the farmers' markets thrives in a century's time - and the food they sell follows the seasons. The children cannot believe their grandparents' stories about buying food from another continent. By 2018 the supermarkets have found it harder; they don't have that monopoly to beat up the farmers any more - people want to buy locally, and individual shops and markets have come back to our villages. The food they buy was grown in the fields they run through by farmers their parents know.

It is many years now since the world realised that it could not build its way out of carbon dependence, that fooling around with minor sources of energy was not enough. Serious land protection, and making sure that development was done on those old contaminated sites had been the answer. Sure, in 2108 there are still problems, but the generation now living in Climping, and in Yapton and in Ford are happy that our generation left them at least the land as it was.

Is this vision NIMBY - well it is to an extent. But then I don't accept NIMBY as a term of abuse. If your 'Vision' is to let developers concrete over fields of corn, to destroy villages that have been here for a 1000 years, then I want no part of it. For me this protest is about handing on the land to our children's children in a good state. Not in My Grandchildren's Back Yard perhaps? Sounds a better vision to me. Find the difficult brownfield sites - not those that you describe as such using legal challenges and tenuous comparisons, but the ones that local people recognise. The old industrial sites, the closed down garages, the old army barracks - the unlovely and the unloved - and spend the money cleaning them up.

Join the march on 7 June and tell the developers that we are proud to protect the land, to eat its food and to live here in our villages.

Geoff Dixon

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