Planning and Environment

28aug99a: Pippa Langford: Introduction to greenfootprints.

Your greenfootprint is the size of land needed to supply you with all your needs, including absorbing the carbon dioxide you and your activities produce, and also including absorbing all your waste products. So your green foot print represents the area required to grow your food, wood for your furniture and paper, cotton and wool for your clothes and all the other many products you buy, use and throw away. It also includes the space you occupy for your house and garden.

How can I reduce the size of my footprint to a sustainable area?

A few simple steps can help you reduce your footprint, these steps should also make you healthier, fitter and save you money!

If you've got one, Use your car less. Car share, combine journeys, use a bus or train, or better still cycle or walk. Lots of journeys we make are quite short, and can be quicker by bike.

(It is also cheaper and quicker to go to London from York by GNER than it is by car)

Waste less, follow the "waste hierarchy": Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Reclaim, Dispose.

Reduce - If you don't buy stuff you don't need, you'll never need to throw it away.

Reuse – Either by yourself or someone else, for instance take your old clothes to a charity shop.

Recycle – Paper, glass, plastic, wood, metal, computers, lots of things are being designed so that they are easier to recycle

Reclaim – reclaiming the energy in products is best done by local authorities on a bigger scale, but you can save the nutrients in food waste by composting and using this on your garden.

Dispose – hopefully your bin should be emptier, so you won't have to do much of this.

Take your old stuff to a car boot sale, sell it or even give it away. If someone else can use something you don't need anymore, then that is better than taking it to the tip.

Turn off lights and electrical appliances such as TVs, CD players, radios, computers and microwave ovens, when you are not using them. This especially includes turning off the TV, don't leave it on standby, it's using loads of electricity. If you've always left your TV on standby, and you start turning if off every time you are not watching it, you will notice the difference on your electricity bill at the end of the year.

Buy low energy light bulbs for the places where you have a light on all the time. For instance in your sitting room or lounge.

If you have a computer, install a computer screen saver that shuts off the screen completely when you are not using it ( and not a screen saver that makes patterns or pictures) – and get them to install them at work too! Computer screens use energy, and if you're not using it why leave it on?

Have a look at what's in your bin. Is there any food wasted? If so, why? buy less, cook less, waste less and save money.

Get a compost bin going – you'll never have to buy fertiliser again!

Buy organic food, or better still grow your own. Organic food may be better for you, it is a lot better for the environment. Artificial fertilisers use lots of energy in their manufacture, use manure instead.

If you have to buy a new washing machine, fridge or any other electrical appliances look for the energy saving model, it will save you money in the long run, and use less energy too.

Use less water, put a brick in your toilet cistern so that it uses less water every time you flush.

Take an ordinary shower, not a bath or a power shower, it uses less water.

Measure the amount of washing powder you use, and only use the minimum you need to get your clothes clean.

And a few don'ts

Don't buy furniture, wood or charcoal from unsustainable sources, look for the FSC logo.

Don't tip oil or white spirit down the drain, take it to your local tip for proper disposal

Don't wash out your bottles and tins with fresh water, use the dirty stuff at the end of the washing up bowl, using fresh clean hot water wastes energy.

Don't leave the tap running when you clean your teeth.

Don't fill your kettle to the brim every time, just boil the amount of water you need, it saves energy and your drinks taste better with fresh water.

How can the town plan make a difference to my footprint?

The Town Plan can make a difference by reducing the need to travel by car. If services and facilities are provided close to where people live and work, then there is less need to travel.

The local authority could provide more good cycleways and footpaths and pavements, with good lighting so that people feel safe cycling or walking.

There need to be safe (and preferably dry) places for bicycles, how many local shopping areas are there which have car parking facilities, but nowhere to leave your bike which is safe.

Roads through housing estates could be altered so that pedestrians and cyclists have priority over cars. Streets could be safe again for children to play in if cars had to travel at 5mph in "home zones". (It has been done in other countries, so we could do it here)

Keep green areas, especially allotments and encourage people to use them.

Set up community composting schemes where people don't have room for composing in their own garden.

Beware "greenwash" in your life!

Many people think they do their bit for the environment by buying organic food and taking their bottles, paper and cans for recycling but beware! Not buying the stuff in the first place is much more environmentally friendly. So drink water rather than a fizzy drink in a can, it's better for you and the environment. Don't have a car – it will probably save you money and your waistline. Grow your own food, it tastes better, and doesn't need transport to your home.

20sep00a: Faxfn: Unjoined Government: Planning and the Environment

Case study: Planning in York

Some background

Since the shame of the ghastly inner ring road they proposed in the early 1970s, the planners of York have had some significant success in improving the local environment. But once again they are showing a lack of grip when it comes to the big issues.

The big issue now, as it was then, is the relationship between the shape of the city, traffic generation and accessibility. The 1973 public enquiry (which thankfully the planners lost) had evidence which pointed out that "urban facilities clustered at the centre [are] shown to have a considerable theoretical advantage from the point of view of accessibility" and "it is difficult to see how the concentrations of people in places, like the centre of York, could be achieved by mass motor car transport without seriously damaging the accessibility of the centre." This was based on the work of HR Kirby in the 1960s (eg. Road Research Laboratory pamphlet LR284).

Such principles were, of course, incorporated in the DETRs PPG 13 in 1994. The DETR website says : "Planning policy on transport, contained in Planning Policy Guidance Note 13 (PPG 13), aims to ensure that local authorities carry out their land use policies and transport programmes in ways which cut the number and duration of motorised journeys." One of the recommendations of PPG 13 is that urban facilities should be located in city centres so that they are more accessible by means of public transport and so cut the use of the car.

Key issues facing York (and may other planning authorities) are:
  • The location of retail development
  • The location of new jobs
  • The location of housing
  • Green belt policy
This first note will deal mainly with the issue of retail development. Another issue more specific to York is the development of land adjacent to the railway including the central railway station and York's original station, now used for offices, just over the city wall from the current station.

Problems with proposed retail developments.

Almost everone knows that retail developments generate lots of private car traffic. Fewer know that park and ride may be OK for commuters but of much less use to today's shoppers. This latter is a fact that planners seem reluctant to concede openly. (One planner who did concede this point on his last day in the job was described as "demob happy" by one of his colleagues.)

Traffic in York causes high levels of local pollution. York has a much more polluted atmosphere than is commonly realised. For example, teachers at a certain school near the city centre are reported to be reluctant to allow windows to be opened because of traffic fumes and grime. The council is reluctant to release the raw measurements of air quality, preferring to release their own chosen summaries. Even these show there is a significant problem. The decrease in pollution levels during the fuel crisis would make very instructive reading.

There are two significant proposed shopping developments in York:
  • A development on Foss Islands Road (one of the nastiest pieces of road encircling the city centre.)
  • Coppergate Riverside, adjacent to Cliffords Tower
The Foss Islands Road scheme, if built as currently planned, will be almost entirely car-based eg. warehouse shopping. Some plans have been made to incorporate bus access to the site but who will come by bus to take a new bed home? The land is owned by the council, who have given it planning permission. Its "tin sheds" have been described as an out of town shopping centre in York centre.

There are much higher quality uses for the site. Many people have commented on the lack of opportunities for quality developments in York. Some of us have the impression that the planners are "quality blind". This is nothing new but the impression is enhanced by the attempt to define "quality" by a "quality rule" in the green belt consultations. But more on that in future pieces.)

But the big issue is Coppergate Riverside where Land Securities have been bashing away for years to get some 24,000 sq meters of shopping floorspace into the centre of York. According to the Traffic Impact Assessment commissioned by Land Securities some 1,485,875 visitors per annum are predicted for this development and those in cars will arrive and depart in 618,101 two-way trips.

Now Land Securities do build in city centres and some of their schemes are reputed to be rather good. They are not the worst property developer in the world. But it has to be said this scheme will bring more traffic into York along roads that already suffer from bad traffic pollution. The traffic will come through residential districts where people use cars less than average. The traffic will mostly originate from suburbia and the countryside where people make considerable use of their cars. It's the car-rich that gets the pleasure and the car-poor wot feels the pain.

Ironically, the scheme is justified in terms of PPG 13 which says "shopping should be promoted in existing centres which are more likely to offer a choice of means of access, particularly for those without the use of a private car." So there we have it: This shopping centre is placed next to one of York's ancient monuments so that the residents of Fishergate and South Bank can walk or cycle to a shopping centre that will increase the pollution in their residential neighbourhoods. Perhaps someone should ask them what they think?

Catch 22 at the railway station

York has much better than average transport policies. It has pioneered traffic calming, pedestrianisation and park and ride schemes. The council have gone to public consultation with transport alternatives in what appears to be a very genuine process. The most favoured option included opening several suburban railway stations to bring people into York city centre by train.

The railway station is also a place where many buses stop in York. It has York's major taxi rank. All this emphasises the fact that the station area is easily the most accessible place in York.

There are large amounts of developable land around the station: the "teardrop site" behind the station, which includes the National Railway Museum and much brownfield land, the old station site inside the city walls, Marygate car park, the area behind the Odeon on Blossom Street, and the sad and delapidated Rougier Street. But the planners of York seem to want to site retail development away from the station. They want to put it where few people would come by train.

The excuse for ignoring the station seems to be that PPG 13 forbids it: the station is not part of the "city centre" and PPG 13 suggests retail developments should ideally be in city centres. So the PPG that is designed to make urban facilities more accessible apparently forbids retail development near the most accessible place in York - the place that is best served by public transport.

(Update August 2002: The Public Inquiry on Coppergate Riverside closed its public sessions. During the Inquiry Roy Templeman, York's Director of Environment and Development Services, conceded that the Station and the land behind it was part of the city centre. In addition a design brief has been issued for this site, now referred to as York Central, that proposes some 20, 000 square metres of retail and leisure space. So now the sequential argument can no longer be used.)

Note: In a recent report in the Yorkshire Evening Press, WSP, the consultants that wrote the Traffic Impact Assessment for Coppergate Riverside, claim that their estimates refer to existing traffic. It is, however, difficult to see how 1.48 million visitors can go to a scheme that has not yet been built. We believe this issue will be further explored on York.Townplan.Org

(Update 14dec2002: See the two excellent websites on the Coppergate Riverside plans
www.yorkcastle.com and www.yorktomorrow.com)

But York has other schemes to push global warming along: Apart from the Foss Islands Road scheme, there is the planned Campus Three for the University which may be located in one of York's most unsustainable locations.

The question some of us are asking is: If an unsuitable location for Campus Three is exempted from the green belt (prior to a planning application) will this lessen the scope of any environmental impact assessment? Does this mean that alternatives in more sustainable locations will be ruled out because they will, by then, be "green belt land"?

18mar02a: Geoff Beacon: Planning, Wealth Transfer And Environment

A response to the Green Paper "Planning: Delivering a Fundamental Change"

(The planning system has been responsible for massive transfers of wealth)

For the past four decades at least, the planning system in the UK has been responsible for massive transfers of wealth. This is directly attributable to the manipulation of the market in planning permission. In key areas especially, the value of planning permission has increased enormously so that its value far exceeds the cost of buildings (for which planning permission is required) and the land that they occupy. This affects both commercial and residential development. However, here I concentrate on the domestic market.

Currently, in many places, the market value of a house is several times the cost of new build. I currently live in York. In Barton on Humber, a pleasant place 35 miles from York, a new house costs about £70,000. In York a similar house would be three times more expensive. But the undeveloped value of the land (without planning permission) is little different so two thirds of the value of housing in York now resides in the value of the permission for the house to be there.

This is why land near York without planning permission would be valued at about £10,000 per hectare and the value of the same land with planning permission is £1,000,000 per hectare or one hundred times greater.

I, with my fellow homeowners, am a beneficiary of this system. For the past four or five years the value of my house (or rather the permission I have to maintain a house on the land in my street) has risen by a greater amount than my salary after tax. This has established an enormous future transfer of wealth to me from those that will take over this property when I leave. Much the same story is true for most of the homeowners in the UK.

I additionally have an interest in a house in York that is let. I should benefit from this by increases in the value of the "house with land and planning permission". It is, of course, the value of the planning permission that is rising. I will benefit from this by increased rent or by selling, at the expense of people in the rented sector.

(A transfer of wealth from poor to rich and from young to old ...
and a degredation of the quality of life)

By and large, these processes represent an enormous transfer of wealth from poor to rich and from young to old.

This state of affairs has come about under a mechanism of planning that was meant to benefit the whole of the community and the most vulnerable in particular. A particular milestone in the planning system was the Town and Country Planning Act of 1948. Contemporary literature clearly shows what dreams for clean and pleasant living the architects and planners of that day had. The restrictions on uncontrolled development were meant to encourage clearly defined urban areas with open green areas surrounding them. The undeveloped "green belts" around towns and cities were to combat the smog and grime of the city.

The reality has turned out differently. Whilst there was significant improvements in air quality after the smoke control acts brought in after the smogs of the 1950s, there has more recently been a serious degradation of the quality of life in urban areas due to increases in traffic mostly caused by the motor car.

The changes that mass motorcar use has caused may be to the advantage of individuals (e.g. Shorter journey times) but are to the detriment of society as a whole (e.g. Pollution, loss of local shops, loss of public transport, loss of the street as a comfortable public space etc.). We now recognise, of course, other disadvantages of mass car transport such as climate change and asthma in children living in urban areas.

(Green Belts benefit the affluent, who are the greatest polluters)

But what has this to do with Green Belts policy? Simply that urban areas are being polluted and damaged by mass car use. Green Belt policy, by restricting the growth of urban areas is thought to be containing the problem. I think this doubtful. The point is that it is the affluent who are the greatest polluters and these are just the group that is being handed vast increases in wealth at the expense of the poor who, by and large, pollute less. This is what economists call moral hazard. It is what I would simply call immoral.

I recognise that to tackle this problem head on is politically unrealistic. Those that pollute most are the affluent majority, but they simply will not admit to the scale of the problem. I wish to suggest a policy of creating of areas of low vehicle use, similar to that which I proposed in the York Inner Ring Road Inquiry of 1973. These would be areas that would have tight restrictions on the pollution they could cause (possibly measured in terms of the emerging concept of "green footprint"). This would mean that the use of private cars would be limited. But these would be areas where local shops, public transport and other facilities appropriate to areas of low vehicle use would be viable.

(Making inner urban areas car free is politically difficult. But ...)

In 1973, I envisaged that these low vehicle use areas would be fashioned from the inner urban areas. I now recognise that this is politically unrealistic. Even at that time it was unrealistic. As Alderman Burke, a very experienced Labour councillor, pointed out, "You can't tell a man in a terrace house he cannot have a car". But I fall back on the alternative I presented then "This [designating inner urban low vehicle use areas], however, should not preclude the building of new housing accommodation designed for a low level of car ownership for those who preferred to spend their money on good housing rather than cars."

This policy could be successful, particularly if the land allocated to "low green footprint" housing were many times the total demand so that the value of the planning permission was kept low. I would make a rule something like this. "If you are intending to build a settlement which has a green footprint which is one third of the national average, you can build almost anywhere you like."

If this spoils the view of the middle class, home owning, car-driving polluter, I would happily say, "so be it". But that is not politically realistic. It could be pointed out, however, that a low green footprint settlement has much more chance of being less obtrusive.

(Increase the supply of planning permission for low green footprint developments...
to dampen down the house price scramble.)

This would be somewhat of a departure from our plan-led system. If you can build anywhere, you don't need a plan. But the plan led system is responsible for much of the inequity in our society. We need to completely rethink it and the way it interacts with our market economy.

The present Green Paper proposals for changing the structure of the planning process can be seen as reducing its democratic content. Frankly, this concerns me little. It is so hard to keep up with the current system. It is complicated and it is increasingly manipulated by officers so that elected officials cannot keep up. Transparency is only available to those with the skills of the private investigator and enough time to crack the case.

What matters more is the results. What we have at the moment is worsening social conditions, an increasing impact on the local and global environment and an enormous transfer of wealth from the have-nots to the haves. By allowing sufficient supply of planning permission for low green footprint developments, we not only create the possibility of market-led, good quality low-cost housing for those who choose to restrict their impact on their surroundings but we also give some mechanism for dampening down the house price scramble in adjacent areas.

Clearly a coordinated approach to public transport is required, particularly when such a policy is applied to our major conurbations. But it is to be remembered that housing and public transport have been seen, in the past, as tandem developments.

From www.ltmuseum.co.uk we see

Uniquely, the Metropolitan Railway set up a subsidiary company, the Metropolitan Railway Country Estates Limited, which was founded in 1919 to buy land and build estates along its line. Thousands of homes were built during the 1920s and 1930s in 'Metro-Land', from Baker Street to Neasden, Wembley and Rickmansworth.

Geoff Beacon geoff.beacon@virgin.net
18 March 2002

20aug02a: Geoff Beacon: York NIMBYs steal from the poor and destroy the Planet

If the world were populated by York people we'd need three Earth's

A recent report compiled by John Barratt of the Stockholm Institute for Planet York says that an average York resident has an individual green footprint of 6.91 hectares. This report gives a "fair earthshare" footprint as 2.1 hectares so if everybody on Earth lived as the residents of York, we would need three planets like Earth.

(An individual's green footprint is the area of the Earth required to grow food, absorb waste and provide raw materials for consumption. One of the largest elements in the green footprints of the affluent world is the area of land required to absorb greenhouse gasses, particularly Carbon Dioxide from energy generated for heating and cooling buildings, transport and manufacturing products for consumption. See Pippa Langford above)

The rich need more - the poor need less

Planet York's brochure for the launch of this green footprint report shows that some individuals have bigger footprints than others. Some people are the sort that could fit on one planet Earth, others would require five or more planet Earths.

There is, of course, an obvious connection between affluence and consumption so, in general, the rich and affluent are the more polluting.

The Green Belt gives to the affluent and powerful

Property prices are rising in York at over one thousand million pounds a year. This value gives those, who already have their feet on the ladder, an enormous store of wealth, which sooner or later they will spend. Most of this is directly attributable to the manipulation of the market in planning permission by Green Belt policy.

The obvious backers of Green Belt policy are the NIMBYs who gain so much wealth through their houses and some pleasure in driving their cars through the Green Belt. But there are more powerful and well organised interests that benefit from the allocation of planning permission: land owners, property developers and, of course, the University.

Regulating the price. Distributing the spoils

It may not be York Council's intention, but the slow release of planning permission regulates the price of development land more effectively than OPEC regulates the price of oil. The small amounts released keep the value of the NIMBYs' assets rising. This strategy also hands enormous benefits to those organised enough to understand the system or lucky enough to be able to mask commercial development under the guise of education.

Planning and pollution

It is, of course, one of the objectives of our current planning system to regulate development in order to reduce pollution. Indeed, the Green Belt policy itself is thought of as a "green" policy. But it is clear that this is not the case because it gives wealth to people so that they can increase their consumption and so increase their pollution and green footprint.

A recent "Analysis" program on Radio 4, "Home Economics" made part of the link:

Andrew Henley, Professor of economics, Aberystwyth University said "There is now this phenomenom of housing equity withdrawal that people, ... may well be withdrawing equity to spend on other things. That may typically be to buy new consumer durables - carpets, curtains, furniture - for the next house... Some of it goes into overseas holidays and new cars."

Martin Ellis, Group chief economist, Halifax Building Society said "People have extracted a record amount from the housing equity and that amount is at 18 billion pounds in the first 3 months of this year. That is the highest amount ever and it’s one of the reasons why consumer spending is so buoyant at the moment."

If anyone does know of any economist (or anyone) who has done any studies on the demographics of pollution please let us know. But the main point is, of course, obvious: House owners pollute more as their assets inflate. We fly away to our holiday in the sun. We consume more fruit and vegetables flown halway round the world and we buy bigger cars.

Stealing from the young and the poor.

The rise in house (or planning permission) values has established an enormous transfer of wealth to householders from those that buy their houses in the future.

Additionally, with the increase of "buy to let", property owners are now benefiting from increases in the value of the "houses with land and planning permission". It is, of course, the value of the planning permission that is rising. The benefit is in the form of increased rental values, at the expense of people in the rented sector.

The ones that loose out are typically the young and the poor and increasingly the not-so-poor as a recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has highlighted ("Land for Housing: Current Practice and Future Options", March 2002, James Barlow).

See also Planning, Wealth Transfer And Environment above.

The answers?

See Part 2 in September.

20aug02b: Faxfn: No more Norfolk?

Data for this graph comes from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center cdiac.esd.ornl.gov.

  1. Historical CO2 Record from the Vostok Ice Core (414085BP to 2342BP), J.M. Barnola et al, Laboratoire de Glaciologie et de Geophysique de l'Environnement, France and N. I. Barkov, Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia, August 1999
  2. Historical CO2 Record from the Siple Station Ice Core (1663AD to 1891AD), A. Neftel et al, Physics Institute, University of Bern, September 1994
  3. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations (ppmv) derived from in situ air samples collected at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii (1958AD to 2000AD), C.D. Keeling, T.P. Whorf, and the Carbon Dioxide Research Group, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, USA

CO2 concentration and temperature

To see the correlation between CO2 concentration and average surface temperature at Vostok over the past 450,000 years see

  1. Historical Isotopic Temperature Record from the Vostok Ice Core
  2. Historical Carbon Dioxide Record from the Vostok Ice Core
The above links will open in new windows in your browser. Compare the graphs of these data series (follow the "Graphics" links in both cases).

Challenges of a Changing Earth Conference

For more background on this see Challenges of a Changing Earth Conference. There is an excellent Powerpoint presentation by Berrien Moore III.

17sep02a: Philosopy Graduate: Why pollution is still profitable.

DEFRA's Climate Change Levy is intended to tax the planet's polluters in the business sector. It is not a domestic levy or even applicable to small businesses. The most important aspect of the levy, and ultimately the reason for its failure, is that it has no provision for scale other than this simplistic division.

When it comes to pollution it is fundamental that we apply one law for the rich and another for the poor. More is needed, however, than an exemption for those least guilty and a fixed charge for all others. Our society recognises the justice of scalability in the taxation of income. Those who earn more, it is reasoned, can afford to give more. Scalability achieves this while leaving the rich still far wealthier than their poorer cousins.

In the case of pollution tax this logic would appear even more transparent. Unlike income tax, pollution tax is charged for damage done in the pursuit of profit. The more damage the more profit. Moreover, damage to the environment is exponential.

Any levy on pollution is presumably intended in some part as a deterrent. The current system, however, sees the largest of polluters paying no more per unit than any other. As these larger corporations have more capital with which to recoup their costs, the Climate Change Levy could be seen as biasing the market in favour of large-scale polluters.

The most telling detail of the Climate Change Levy is the complete omission of one of the world's largest polluters, the consumer. We are essential to the continuation of pollution profitability. The more we are discouraged from purchasing products and services which are not environmentally friendly the less profit companies in the pollution business will make.

With this in mind, objections to the involvement of the consumer seem questionable. The main concern raised being, ironically, social justice. Some argue that a tax levied against 'greedy' households, who take up more than an equal share of the world's resources, would victimise the less well off. Heating, for example, would become untenable for the poor. Only the rich would be able to afford life's basic necessities.

This apparent concern is misplaced. It ignores the fact that the poor pollute far less than the affluent. It is not life's basic necessities that would lead to taxation, rather those luxuries for which the wealthy could afford to pay a little more. Big houses need more energy to heat than small houses. Large cars use more petrol than small ones. Planes use aviation fuel.

17sep02b: Faxfn: A simpler message for DEFRA.

The rich pollute more than the poor

So ...

  1. Raise tax for high energy users (the rich).
  2. Give rebates to low energy users (the poor).
  3. The poor are better off. The worst polluters pay more.
  4. Stop whinging about fuel poverty and raise the Climate Change Levy.


25mar03a: Jon Talbot: Land values, builders and executive housing.

The volume housebuilders profit from planning

l woud like to say something about planning following on from geoff beacon's piece on planning conferring financial benefit via increased land values to homeowners. Cos that's not the only impact - it also underwrites the profits of the volume housebuilders who long ago realised there is more money to be made out of land speculation than trying to build better quality houses. And the biggest increase in land value comes from building 'executive' housing - hence the prediliction of builders for 4 bed detached houses when household sizes are decreasing. l am beginning to think that our system - which is essentially a political compromise from 1947 would be better if it took on rather more powers to control land or fewer.

Incidentally l saw an ad in private eye which was obscure to the nth degree. l realised what 'plannersattheodpm' meant but its hard to imagine many other people did - not that l'm that clever or anything its just l read the small ads in private eye.

(www.plannersattheodpm.org.uk was meant to be narrowly aimed. If you know any of them tell them about us.)

21apr03b: The Daily Mail: House prices and the end of the world

The Daily Mail has two stories today

  • THE GOOD NEWS: House prices to double by 2020
  • THE BAD NEWS:If the Earth is't turned into grey goo first, that is.

The Good News - for most readers of the Daily Mail

The Good News refers to a recent report by the Centre for Economic and Business Research.The Mail reports CEBR as saying that millions of home owners could earn a 'second income' from remortgaging their property. The Mail also reports that "analysts" already estimate that £15 out of every £100 spent now comes from equity withdrawal. (This is not surprising considering that, during 2002, the national total of house price rises was equal to roughly 40% of GDP.)

Of course, the Good News is good news for most readers of the Daily Mail, who already own their own houses. They report CEBR's Mark Pagnall as saying.

"Because we fail to build houses fast enough to meet rising demand we can expect a return to relatively-high rates of house price inflation when consumers' confidence and the economy picks up.

... and for most readers of the Guardian

Our readers may like to look at these faxfn review websites:

These are concerned with the unfairness in the planning system which rewards the older, home-owning middle classes with these vast amounts of wealth at the expense of the poor and the young.

The Bad News - for us all

The Bad News refers to a forthcoming book by the Astronomer Royal, Professor Sir Michael Rees, "Our Final Century" in which he gives mankind only a 50-50 chance of surviving this century.

His list of worries include:

  • Nuclear megaterrorism
  • Supervolcanoes
  • Nanotechnology
  • Asteroids
  • Scientific experiments
  • Climate change

Our readers may like to look at these other faxfn review websites:

These are concerned with the lack of thoughton issues such as these by those that have responsibility for planning our towns and cities.