I note with interest the press release from Natural England (NE) covering their decision to appeal the recent High Court judgement re Peter Boggis and the Easton Bavents cliffs.
Sean Thomas (Regional Director NE) says the judgement “threatens to stifle the ways in which advice and expert opinion can be used to inform planning and development decisions”
That, I would respectfully contend, is absolute rubbish. What it may do is force NE to take a more open, honest democratic approach which must surely be in the public interest.
Currently their paymasters and owners (the taxpaying public) have no input or influence whatsoever in how NE arrives at any decision be it for advice or otherwise. That is absolutely undemocratic and intolerable.
NE itself is an unelected, undemocratic quango which is costing the taxpayer millions of pounds annually and is getting in everyone’s way and doing a great deal of harm to individuals and communities around the coast.
As we all know there can only be one thing worse than the foregoing that is an unelected, undemocratic quango with powers!
What is really behind all this is that NE clearly does not wish to be forced into fully and publicly carrying out their assessments or have to justify their decisions or advice to anyone.
Over recent times I/we have met with more than one Minister of State and some very senior players in the field of coast management indeed one Minister revealed his impatience with NE by dismissing them completely saying “ignore them they are only advisers they have no say in policy”. Perhaps the time has now come to do precisely that.
Of course if we lived in a democratic, socially just society rooted in equality for all there would never have been any need for conflict between the residents of Easton Bavents and NE in the first place.
Unfortunately we do not live in such a society, it seems if one lives on the coast one is treated like a leper by being told to give up your land and property in the, so called, wider national interest and the wider nation takes absolutely no account of that. The individual is expected to bear the full cost.
Malcolm Kerby (15 January 2009)