Our local council, AVDC, is under siege from property developers and house builders and, with the councils strapped for cash and shedding staff, the planning officers  have their work cut out. In addition, the Council’s ecologists have been cut back from three plus a manager to one, and he has been moved to planning. In the context of the current attack on the Green Belt it seems that, as far as government is concerned at national and local level, the environment and our landscape are to be treated as short-term political issues rather than essential assets to be protected for future generations.

Governments at all levels act on what they believe will gain them votes which suggests that, when it comes down to it, they don’t think there are votes in being green.

The immediate issue is house building on new green-field sites in our area: the towns of Aylesbury and Thame and the villages of Long Crendon, Chearsley, Haddenham and Waddesdon are all subject to multiple planning applications and new estates are springing up like mushrooms on agricultural land, reducing the green space between settlements.

Is this what we want? Residents of areas subject to new planning applications are taking action on issues that affect them, but it is on a ‘not in my back-yard’ basis rather than any concerted campaign to reign in development. Do we not also want to have our cake and eat it when it comes to housing? We prefer individual houses to blocks of flats, many of us live in houses that are far bigger than we need and some have second homes which, in turn, mean that workers in attractive areas can’t find affordable homes. However, personal freedom of choice remains paramount and money is the driver when it comes to developing the countryside.

To many tribal cultures, the environment was their life-support system and each community had rules to protect their resources through generations because they understood that they must live within their means, or else go to war with a neighbouring community to gain more land. Human culture is now global and rooted in the idea that growth can be endless because of our technologies, and that environmental resources are free. But there is a cost in environmental degradation of all types, including the loss of countryside, landscape and wildlife: that is our choice.

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