New Law in Britain Could See Public Land Passed to Developers Without Local Oversight
By SchNews /

New Tory Bill threatens sell off of all public land

They've stolen our postal service, and are currently giving away the health service, education and prisons to their mates, what's next for this Government? Perhaps the most audacious theft yet - potentially all of our public land.

Surreptitiously, with zero media coverage, the Government has introduced a Bill, due to be debated in the House of Lords today (Wednesday June 18th) with a clause that bypasses the role of councils in granting or denying planning consent, cancels any rights of way or any need to ask the people of England and Wales if they mind losing their parks, playing fields, allotments, woodlands, public facilities or village greens to housing developers, fracking companies, road- or railway-builders. It's the land grab to end all land grabs. But not everyone's on the receiving end, luckily all land belonging to the Royal Family is excluded.

Handily, privatisation of the Land Registry is also happening, and the proposed law, known as the Infrastructure Bill, will give this newly private company free rein on deciding who land belongs to. The Government, conveniently forgetting that the land is ours, plans to order local authorities to make 90 per cent of its brownfield sites (a designation that apparently includes parks, allotments, gardens as well as former industrial sites) available to be transferred to the Government quango the Homes and Communities Agency, which was established in 2008. The HCA can then pass it on to developers without any of tiresome planning restrictions. The job of deciding on planning applications will no longer be done by councillors - Eric Pickles (or his successors) and a panel of two Government inspectors will instead get out their rubber stamp for whoever wants the land.

George Osborne (in a recent after-dinner speech) said houses are needed so badly that anyone who objects must be a nimby. In the same breath, he said the Government would protect "green spaces" - by that, of course he means the private estates. As 69 per cent of Britain's acreage is owned by 0.6 per cent of the population , and quite a lot of that by the Queen and Prince Charles, it means his friends' rural idylls will be untarnished. Another sweetener for the developers - if their estates contain less than 50 houses, they won't need to bother making them zero carbon, which is currently required. While many will agree new houses need to be built (whereas only 20 per cent agree fracking should be allowed), why must it all be on public land?

At the time of writing, no newspaper or broadcaster has covered the story - maybe they think their readers won't want to know that they could lose their recreational spaces? It was only discovered by campaigners from the Forest of Dean nosing around the Government's website. Campaigners from Hands Off Our Forest were wondering, despite many promises from Defra for many months, why no draft forestry legislation was announced in the Queen's Speech, the last-chance saloon for this government to pass new laws. HOOF and other members of the Forest Campaigns Network had been told the legislation was ready to go, and they'd been involved with discussions on it ever since they started meeting with civil servants in 2011. They and 3,000 banner-waving protestors - many of them pillars of the community, some even Tory voters - freaked the Government out by burning an effigy of Big Ben in the middle of the Forest and getting it on the news. That, combined with a national petition of 500,000 names and an opposition flank that included the Archbishop of Canterbury, Daily Telegraph and Boris Johnson's sister, had forced the Government to concede wrongdoing, and to scrap their attempt to pass the noxious Public Bodies Bill, which would have allowed all the public woodlands in England to have been sold off or otherwise disposed of. At the start of the campaign, one member of HOOF received an anonymous phone call from someone who said he worked in "policy". "The Forests are just the start," he warned. "They are absolutely determined to sell every scrap of public land - beaches, parks, the lot."

Within a few months, however, the Government retreated in the face of mass protest, (see SchNEWS 754 Fight them on the Beeches)  which included some top Establishment figures. Three years on, it seems the Government are trying it all on in one go, and something is stirring again in the forest... and ought to be throughout England and Wales. The Infrastructure Bill contains a clause which will allow ALL public land to be privatised. There's no need to reference the Forestry Act 1967, the Countryside Rights of Way Act or any other protective law, because Schedule 3 of the Bill- states that "the property, rights and liabilities that may be transferred by a scheme include... property, rights and liabilities that would not otherwise be capable of being transferred or assigned." It may as well say, "break any law, trample on any rights, do whatever you like... none of it counts for anything anymore, we've fixed it for you". The more Parliament keeps this a secret, the easier it will be for this Government and any future governments to get whatever they want built or fracked, without local busybodies and neighbours getting in the way.

However, given that the 'save the forests' campaign transcended politics and class - people equally appreciate beauty-spots to exercise their hounds whether they're millionaires or paupers - aren't our political 'representatives' taking a bit of a risk that if this secret gets out at an early enough stage (although it is being rushed through Parliament rapidly) that loads of disparate people might find common cause? All the efforts spent in encouraging divide and rule and the rise of the far-right might be in vain... Maybe people will realise they've gone too far this time? No protests have yet been organised at the time of writing - but there is a petition, good for raising awareness at least:


January 3, 2011, Hands Off Our Forest rally at The Speech House in the centre of the Forest of Dean, when thousands of people gathered in sub-zero temperatures to warm themselves around a burning Big Ben.
0.0 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
F*ck That: A Guided Meditation for the Realities of Today's World
2 min · 11,584 views today · Just acknowledge that all that sh*t is f*cking b*llshit — you're here now, in this place, with your inner stillness. Take in a deep breath ... now breathe out. Just feel the...
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 8,108 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 7,021 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Who I'm Voting For...
3 min · 5,423 views today · Prince Ea announces who he's voting for. It's probably not who you think.
25 Mind-Twisting Optical Illusion Paintings by Rob Gonsalves
Dovas · 3,960 views today · The beautiful and mind-bending illusions in Canadian artist Robert Gonsalves’ paintings have a fun way of twisting your perception and causing you to question what in his...
Free Trade Explained In An Excellent Comic
Michael Goodwin, Illustrated by Dan E. Burr · 3,929 views today · The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are the latest in a long line...
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change (2015)
11 min · 2,846 views today · Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday; or that chopping...
Open Up - Have the Difficult But Important Conversations With Loved Ones
5 min · 2,502 views today · “The biggest casualty of humanity is the lack of communication, it’s the thing that breaks most relationships. It just feels so much better to talk and get it out.” There is...
#Hypernormalisation - Why Heathrow Plan Is Proof We Exist in a Catastrophic Fantasyland
Matthew Adams · 2,214 views today · The British government recently gave the green light for Heathrow airport’s third runway. It was heralded by its supporters as a vital boost for jobs and growth – and proof...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,544 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,476 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
The Empire Vs. The People - Police Attack and Arrest Peaceful Protestors at the Dakota Access Pipeline
6 min · 1,430 views today · On October 22, just before dawn, hundreds of people, including many families, gathered and prepared to march toward the Dakota Access pipeline construction site near Standing...
'Maritime Graveyard': 2016 Deadliest Year Ever for Refugees Crossing Mediterranean
Deirdre Fulton · 1,375 views today · "From one death for every 269 arrivals last year, in 2016 the likelihood of dying has spiraled to one in 88," says UNHCR spokesman
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 1,168 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
The Burden of the New Story
Adebayo Akomolafe · 1,095 views today · The 'new story' - that longed for milieu when all is right with the world and things are set straight - seems to be taking its sweet time coming. Why?
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 715 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Ode to Lesvos
5 min · 690 views today · An inspiring story of a few remarkable heroes on the Island of Lesvos who helped almost half a million refugees in 2015 has been documented in a new short film called Ode to...
These Incredible Stories Remind Us of Our Better Selves
36 min · 687 views today · #WhoWeAre is a campaign to share the stories of people whose actions show us compassion and to send a message of empathy, hope and optimism. These videos will automatically...
HyperNormalisation (2016)
161 min · 470 views today · We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless...
No Moral Superpower: Arundhati Roy, Edward Snowden, and the Crimes of Empire
Jake Johnson · 426 views today · When Arundhati Roy was preparing, in 2014, for a trip to Moscow to meet Edward Snowden, she was troubled by two things. One of them was the fact that the meeting was arranged...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
New Law in Britain Could See Public Land Passed to Developers Without Local Oversight