We shifted to a new block partly because of this experience... you may have spotted the irony.
lovely place we’d spent so many evenings enjoying. As villagers we’d have approved of the walkway, but as river-bankers we’d have been devastated.
You may have spotted the irony. I often lament the Tragedy of the Commons, where things which were communallyowned become privatised. In this instance, we’d ‘privatised’ the river bank which the community then repossessed. I guess I should have been pleased.
And so it goes. There is no way to permanently safeguard our chosen places or ways of life. “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” is a famous quote (often incorrectly attributed to US President Thomas Jefferson), but Environment Court outcomes don’t necessarily favour the vigilant. Instead, there’s a tendency to favour the best-funded effort and that often turns out to be the party threatening change. It’s easy to see why; nine times out of 10, the party wanting a change expects to profit from it. Those defending themselves have to fund their defence from their currentlycommitted private budgets.
Even if we ‘own’ our surrounding habitat – as lifestyle block owners like to think we do – we can be displaced at the stroke of a bureaucratic pen, and the things we are allowed to do can be similarly limited. Our control over what happens outside our fences can be compromised even more, and I’ve lost count of the fights I’ve witnessed where folk just wanted to preserve their particular ‘status quo’. I’ve seen them up and leave, witnessed others get bought out by commercial operations (which viewed the buy-out as their cheapest option), and watched people live with a reduced quality of life rather than leave.
We all make an impact ourselves too. I can remember when there were about five farmhouses on the hills around our village. Look out into the evening nowadays and that once-darkness has become twinkle town over a 30-year period. Each new arrival has liked the peace and quiet, but everyone has built a new house (we did this ourselves) and so forever altered the amenity that earlier folk came for. Carry it on to its illogical conclusion and that infilling ends in suburbia, which is presumably what the early folk were escaping. Everyone in that process will likely resent the ‘next’ change.
Nationally, our society has gone Nimby to many of the manufacturing and processing industries that we accepted one or two generations ago. They’re now conveniently overseas, yet we happily accept their benefits. On a more local scale, we don’t want prisons, landfills, recycling plants or abattoirs anywhere near us, yet we approve of them (because we need them) as long as they are