Housing – part 9: Greenbelts


Written for a housing policy forum. Part 9

City of York ‘greenbelt’

Traditionally green belts were seen to stop urban sprawl and were the ‘green lungs’ of the city. This emphasised public health issues such as slum clearance. The policy is seen as a major instrument in terms of protecting the environment against environmental damage as a result of overdevelopment. It is a policy which is believed will to ‘protect the countryside’.

Continue reading Housing – part 9: Greenbelts


Housing – part 7: Pollution in towns

Pollution in Towns

In the old days coal pollution killed

I grew up in Kent some 30 miles from the great London Smog of 1952, which killed 4,000 Londoners in less than a week and, eventually contributed to 100,000 deaths. When we came to York in 1970, pollution from coal fires was still a problem – I clearly remember walking through the Groves and seeing sooty particles land on the bright yellow baby suit of our year-old daughter.

With coal pollution receding, York’s air improved and so did the look of the inner city terraced houses. Since the 1970s they have gradually lightened in colour and their value has risen. Houses that 1948 Plan for York described as “worn out houses” costing a thousand or so pounds in 1970, now sell for over £200,000. That’s a 20 fold increase in real terms.

Now traffic pollution kills

Continue reading Housing – part 7: Pollution in towns

Housing – part 6: Pollution in the countryside

Written for a housing policy forum. Part 6

We pollute  the countryside

The countryside is not as clean and green as it seems. In part 2, I noted the large carbon footprint of modern non-organic agriculture, particularly the methane emitted by ruminants (cows, sheep, goats &etc.) and the use of nitrogen compounds derived from the energy intensive Harber Bosh process. I also discussed the carbon footprint of “modern”, non-organic, food production but there are other unwelcome impacts. Three of these:

  • Loss of soil fertility
  • Insectageddon
  • The nitrate time bomb
Soil fertility

Continue reading Housing – part 6: Pollution in the countryside

Housing – part 5: Construction and prefabrication

Written for a housing policy forum. Part 5

Construction is a fraction of the cost

The cost of building a traditional house is a modest part of the cost of a new home: In York it is less than the cost of the land when it has planning permission. Not long ago it has been possible to build an individual 3 bed roomed house for about £50,000. I know someone had one built for £50,000 – on land they already owned.

Bricks and mortar houses built in the conventional style

Regional prices for new houses

Continue reading Housing – part 5: Construction and prefabrication

Housing – part 4: We are not short of land

A note for a housing policy forum. Part 4

We are not short of land

Key point: Planning permission adds enormous value to land

A plot of land big enough for a house costs less than £1,000 at agricultural prices.

In places like York, that becomes £50,000, sometimes much more, once the planners give building the go ahead. Planning permission makes no immediate difference to the land: but its name on a certificate in a council office gives an enormous unearned bonus to the land owner. Continue reading Housing – part 4: We are not short of land

Sea Level Acceleration

Open Mind

Sea level isn’t just rising, it is accelerating. It did so during the 20th century, and has done so even more quite recently. ABC news reported the story, based on just-published research (Nerem et al. 2018), that the latest satellite data now show it plainly. The authors of the new study conclude:

When taken with a rate of sea-level rise of 2.9 ± 0.4 mm/y (epoch 2005.0), the extrapolation of the quadratic gives 654 ± 119 mm of sea-level rise by 2100 relative to 2005, which is similar to the processed-based model projections of sea level for representative concentration pathways 8.5 in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Stated alternatively, the observed acceleration will more than double the amount of sea-level rise by 2100 compared with the current rate of sea-level rise continuing unchanged.

View original post 874 more words

Just a reminder: Productivity destroys the climate

More planet destroying stuff is produced if we have full employment and greater productivity

stuff =workers * productivity

We must cut planet destroying stuff.  A top planet destroyer is the car. As Car-free cities pointed out, a city without cars is pleasant and much cheaper. So stop the polluting production lines and have more local market gardens

Starting the misery of the Automotive Nightmare

Then… Continue reading Just a reminder: Productivity destroys the climate

Is CO2 Still Accelerating?

“In recent years, CO 2 emissions have been almost flat despite continued economic growth” GCP CarbonBudget 2017 HOWEVER …

Open Mind

Not only is the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere on the rise, the rise itself has been getting faster — so CO2 concentration has been accelerating. A reader recently asked whether or not there’s any sign of its increase flattening out, or even stopping its acceleration.

Here’s the CO2 data from Mauna Loa:

View original post 321 more words

Car-free cities: The Ripa di Meana study

“the car-free city costs between two and five times less”


An excerpt from a press release from the European Commission in 1992:

   Based   on  these  observations,  Carlo RIPA  di  MEANA,   the   European
   Environment Commissioner, has had a study carried out on car-free  cities
   in  an  attempt  to find the answer to  the  following  question:  Is  it
   possible,  and  if so to what extent, to conceive of a  city  which  will
   operate  more  efficiently than the type of cities we  have  at  present,
   using alternative means of transport to the private car?

   The  answer provided by the study is positive, even in  purely  financial
   terms:  the  car-free  city costs between two and five  times  less  (the
   costs  varying  depending on the population density  of  the  city). 

Anybody know what happened to the study ?

P.S. See also Mixed communities, car-free cities and pedestrian apartheid