For some time I have attempted to reflect on the year ending, and now past but my attention has been drawn away towards flooded fields and swollen rivers, the fact our soakaway has nowhere to soak water ‘away to’ and that I could never have been more grateful for my christmas present of neoprene lined wellies. My grandfather once remarked that he couldn’t understand why local authorities allowed building and development on flood plains, that water always found a way out and if you took away its preferred route it would simply find another way, usually through buildings and houses in its path. Engineers like to think they can outwit nature by using technology but nature doesn’t play by human rules. I dont think we respect nature very well in the UK we should work with it more rather than against it.
Talk at Christmas was of the lane behind my cousins house, a row of farm workers cottages with a right of access over it; encouraged by this governments ‘build, build, build’ initiative aka a relaxation of the planning laws the neighbour in the end house wants to cut his garden in two and build a house in his back garden, the only access to the new property would be via the rough track at the back of the row of houses, the council eager to tick the boxes, think it’s not only okay to grant permission but fine to suggest the neighbour widen the track to make a drive and improve the drainage even though the track is private property owned by the other six houses and he only has right of access. Of course they know full well, that the neighbours will have to employ solicitors in order to fight this, the law will sort things out, one way or another and generally at huge expense. Such is the world we live in now – and thus I find myself reading ‘Test, Learn, Adapt’ and wondering if that would help, or simply make things worse? Would the government of our country would be better served by randomised control trials? Would this help stop the introduction of more and more new legislation, that time and time again fails to be the effective soloution promised and just adds to the bureaucratic mire?
Are we able to trust our government, aren’t they simply too arrogant, too easily corrupted by power and blinded by self-belief to the impact of their actions. When ‘cycle-gate’ broke we shook our heads and thought, the police are behaving in exactly the same way you have behaved – you deserve each other. Not that every member of government is corrupt, or arrogant it’s just an over-riding impression based on the negative impact on our lives of constantly changing legislation and policy, as our sense of freedom and way of life are eroded. Of course, you or I could be in government one day and the weighty demands of steering a country towards a brighter future are pressing whilst the wheels of civil service that underpin government are slow and grinding and whilst we know that you can’t please everyone when making a decision, it must be hard to be the person making those decisions, you’d like to think those who do are wise, clever and reasoned, but we’re only human, imperfect and a melting pot of emotion. Chances are they are none of the above just better risk-takers. Influence, trust, regard are no substitute for good research, a wide understanding and ‘trying and testing’.
So this year, here’s to less government tinkering, less ‘adapting’ more learning, more random control testing leading to a country that is happier, functioning, more at one with nature, protective of its environment countryside, respectful of its citizens, able to sort out its overcrowded cities without voracious and short-sighted building on green fields and flood plains and oh look! An elephant! a pink one…ahh well…