Fringe Box



Greenbelt Group Says Prof’s Radio Comments Are At Odds With University’s Building Plans

Published on: 21 Jan, 2015
Updated on: 21 Jan, 2015

Points to Ponder is a column taking a slightly different look at items in Guildford’s news. Featuring stories that may not hit the main headlines, but will nevertheless get you thinking about issues and those who raise points and have strong opinions.

The Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG) say they are delighted to hear a professor from the University of Surrey in a radio interview make comments about the impact of economic growth on the environment.

GGG logoSpeaking on Shared Planet on BBC Radio 4 last week, Professor Tim Jackson said: “To give a perspective on what we’re doing as an economy, the driving model is to expand consumption as fast as we can, so we can have economic growth. It’s like sitting on a high branch with a saw. Nature has a huge economic value. The value of nature is of the same order of magnitude as the total global world output. But we are sitting there, digging it up, cutting down trees, and destroying species, giving rise to the decimation of biodiversity. We are sawing away, not realising this is the branch we are sitting on.”

Jules Cranwell, a committee member of GGG, which is opposed to the destruction of the green belt, said: “This is a very helpful intervention from Professor Tim Jackson (Professorial Fellowship on Prosperity and Sustainability in the Green Economy).

“These comments fully support the objectives of GGG, in striving to save the green belt. We welcome these incisive observations from such an eminent source.

“However, his views would appear to be at odds with those of the university’s property developers, who currently plan to build 3,000 (and growing) new homes on the green belt at Blackwell Farm on the Hog’s Back.

“His views are also at odds with those of Guildford Borough Council’s Tory executive, which is pursuing unwanted economic growth, at the cost of the green belt, and the countryside.”

A spokesperson from the University of Surrey said: “Universities are a place for debate and open discussion on a whole host of topics, informed by the research and work of our academics. Professor Tim Jackson has been at the forefront of the debate around sustainable development for over twenty years.

“His work takes a macro view of world economics, rather than providing a commentary specifically on Guildford and the university’s plans.”

The full programme can be found with Professor Jackson’s contribution starting at eitht minutes at:

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Responses to Greenbelt Group Says Prof’s Radio Comments Are At Odds With University’s Building Plans

  1. Adrian Atkinson Reply

    January 21, 2015 at 9:08 am

    The University response seems to imply it’s OK for local impact of over-development and the Prof is not in a position to comment on Guildford. Mmmmm, wonder why they say that?

  2. Jenny Procter Reply

    January 21, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    Contrary to the University of Surrey’s comment on Tim Jackson’s article representing a ‘macro view of world economics’, I believe Guildford and its surrounding green belt is a prime example of exactly the type of disregard for the value of nature in the face of the interminable push for economic growth and short term gain he is referring to.

    While there are admittedly many worldwide examples of appalling disregard for environment and nature in the push for economic gain, Surrey and the South East in general are indeed under siege by virtue of the huge and growing imbalance of the economic strength and greed of London relative to the rest of the country.

    The easy and immediately profitable solution for Government, the University of Surrey, councils and developers alike is to build, build, build on prime greenfield and green belt sites. This has nothing to do with affordable or necessary housing.

    It will encourage further migration into the area which in turn will create further demand for housing and ultimately a potentially never ending opportunity (deemed a ‘necessity’) to create vast urban sprawl.

    In the case of GBC’s plans to date, this is seemingly without any regard for infrastructure, air pollution, flood risk, damage to animal and plant life and loss of agricultural land.

    A more sustainable but less immediately profitable approach would be to invest heavily in the north where economic input is sadly needed, providing better transport between cities, creating the infrastructure to regenerate urban areas and support businesses, manufacturing and commercial enterprise where it really will make a difference to local people.

    Redressing the balance would mitigate migration southwards, allowing people to live and work within their own communities and reduce the pressure on overbuilding in any one area nationwide.

    [Jenny Proctor is a member of the Save Send Action Group]

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