DUNCAN BARKES: The NIMBIES bringing Britain to a standstill

Thanks to another surge in NIMBYism this country is once again standing still.

Thursday, 23rd January 2014, 3:00 pm

Those who oppose anything that affects them personally, the NIMBY (‘Not in My Back Yard’) is a dangerous creature.

Motivated only by self-interest, their attitude will see the UK lagging behind while other nations grow and prosper.

Examples of NIMBYism are rife. Take the saga regarding High Speed 2 (HS2), the new rail network being proposed to link London with the Midlands and the north of England.

Of course, it means some properties will have to be bulldozed and some greenbelt land ploughed, but unless this happens we will be left with a decrepit rail system which will soon be unfit for purpose.

Britain will become a laughing stock compared to countries such as China, where they understand the importance and value of continually upgrading and developing their rail networks.

Then there’s the proposed expansion at Heathrow Airport and the fuss about creating a third or fourth runway. Capacity at this world-famous airport is almost at breaking point, yet we continue to drag our heels about expansion because of the NIMBY.

Yet again the country suffers as airlines and businesses start to look elsewhere to base their operations.

Greenbelt land features heavily in the mind of the NIMBY.

Housing development is an obvious bone of contention.

Property prices are increasing and there is a shortage of houses. West Sussex youngsters leaving home are forced to look further afield; they simply cannot afford to buy locally.

The obvious solution is more housing, but nobody wants it near them.

I accept this has to go hand in hand with an investment in infrastructure, but simply saying a big fat ‘NO’ to more houses is essentially selfish and inward looking.

And then we have this year’s big issue: fracking. A topic riddled with kneejerk rhetoric and misinformation, it is difficult to know where to start.

Cheaper fuel bills and an economic boost for the country seem like a good idea to me, but NIMBIES won’t even flirt with the idea. Proper informed debate around this issue is almost impossible; all attempts at sensible dialogue are drowned out by shrieking NIMBIES.

I remember years ago in West Sussex the opposition to mobile phone masts being erected, yet nobody seemed prepared to give up their mobile phone in protest. Typical NIMBY behaviour – they want it all, but at no personal cost.

NIMBYism is a barrier to progress and our country is in serious danger of being left behind.

Attitudes need to change before we shudder to a complete halt.