Environmental red tape has brought our economy to its knees

Building things in Britain is very difficult. From houses to hotels, roads to railways, the arcane planning system and its endless rules prevent us from creating better places to live and work. Endless rounds of applications, appeals and decisions make everything more expensive to build, but it’s the hidden costs — the growth we don’t get from unbuilt homes or unconnected roads — that keep our economy small.

Our miscalibrated planning regime often prevents the expansion of manufacturing industries, the creation of jobs and the growth of our economy. Jeremy Clarkson has weighed in on the issue with proposed additions to his Didley Squad farm, while an already built hotel faces demolition. Some level of regulation and common sense regulation is important, but these perverse consequences show that we need to rethink.

Planning system has not made our country prosperous or beautiful. It goes through the motions. Across the country, time and time again, we see process rules being followed to yield good results. Strict adherence to ever-evolving mountain regulations must be demonstrated in reams of paperwork documenting appraisal after appraisal.

This greatly increases the cost of construction in the UK. We have spent £250m on a planning application for the Lower Thames Crossing without building anything yet. That’s less than half what Norway spent on building the world’s longest tunnel. Not only is it ridiculous that the government spent so much on building permits, but the delay is years away from the tunnel’s economic benefits. No wonder we are falling further and further behind our global competitors.

READ  Australian economy adds twice as many jobs as expected as unemployment rate rises to 3.7% | Unemployment

Some laws impoverish us without actually achieving their primary purpose. Environmental impact assessments derived from EU laws, renewable energy projects, projects like solar farms are very good for the environment. Building these quickly will help reduce our stubbornly high energy prices, but permitting new projects will take years.

Or take the nutrient neutral rules imposed by Natural England which prevent 100,000 new homes. Another hangover from the EU, these rules are said to be designed to tackle water pollution. But they didn’t really look at the main cause of the problem – agricultural fertilizers – and instead effectively banned new housing in large parts of the country. Once again the rules failed to achieve their objectives, leaving us trapped in cramped, expensive, low-quality housing.

All of this comes at a very real economic cost. If we had built houses before the Second World War, we would have the leading economy in Europe with spacious homes for every family, shorter commutes and more money to fund vital public services such as the NHS. Meanwhile, very few would argue that the planning system creates a high-quality urban environment. Permits are often soulless, car-oriented housing rather than attractive soft density

The government is now planning to roll back the nutrient neutrality rules – which is very welcome and could unlock significant additional housing construction. But I think there’s a strong case for a broader rethink. The best and most beautiful parts of the country, from Bloomsbury to Georgian Edinburgh, were built before the post-war planning system began to strangle our economic growth. A little less process, and more focus on implementing positive outcomes can change this.

READ  The report shows that Boston's economy is recovering after the pandemic

Dodaj komentarz

Twój adres e-mail nie zostanie opublikowany. Wymagane pola są oznaczone *