Thursday, 1 March 2012

Even Worse Than NIMBYs...

I grew up in a small(ish) town before moving to the big city to study then settle down. I still go back to the small town from time to time and I notice the changes, some I like but others I don't. I like the riverside park that has been extended and I dislike the creep of houses and shops in to the countryside on the periphery of town.

But I do not live there. I have chosen not too, therefore I must accept the changes made by those who do. In the big city we have many amenities; why should the small town not have some too if the townsfolk want them?

Unfortunately there are some that don't see the world that way. They move to the bright lights but they want the old place to remain as it was when they left, as they remember it. They will go to great lengths to keep it that way despite the desires of those living there to improve the place. Worse still are those who have never lived there but have some ancestral ties that they believe gives them the right to decide what is and is not acceptable for a community.

Take Mary Anne MacLeod who left the village of Tong on Lewis for New York in the 1930s. She visited her old home throughout her life but as far as I can tell, she didn't impose her will on the community. However, her son, Donald Trump, now uses her connection to Scotland to justify riding roughshod over our democratic systems and procedures. Although our planning system is far from perfect, it is what we have. For someone to fly in from NYC, to hire a rent-a-mob to support his view, to threaten to sue his opponents and to leave the site he trashed unfinished is not the way the system is meant to work.

These are the tactics employed by Trump on his proposed golf resort on the Menie Estate near Aberdeen. On his initial application he went over the heads of local councillors to the First Minister, bribing him with the promise of jobs to get approval. He then attempted a modern day clearance to evict neighbours from their homes to "improve" the views from his course. After destroying many parts of the dune landscape, including SSSIs (sites of special scientific importance), he now threatens to abandon the development if he doesn't get his own way with regard to a proposed wind farm nearby.

At least NIMBYs live in the area and take an interest in developments that are proposed. They get a bad press, depicted as putting their own self interest above the community benefits of proposed developments, although the polarised nature of debate on the internet seems to brands all objectors as NIMBYs. While I don't always agree with the motives or justifications of NIMBYs, they do help ensure that the due process is followed and provide a degree of voluntary oversight of the elected officials making planning decisions, which is good.

The incomer (just visiting) is far worse than any nimby: they do not have to live with the consequences of their actions and they are completely unaccountable. I don't see Trump's actions as being very different from those of organisations such as Heartland, using their money to spread misinformation to get their own way regardless of the cost to the environment or to people's lives and livelihoods.
Following through this argument that local development should be decided locally has far reaching implications for conservation and environmental protection but that is for another post.

Related Links:
Trump must not blow Scottish Renewables off course:
Trumpland Clearances:
We've tripped up trump:


  1. Excellent post. I hate Donald Trump and i find it difficult to understand why the Scottish Government have bent over hackwards for him - I would be interested to hear how Salmond thinks that selling out to an unpleasant American millionaire helps the cause of independence? In the truest sense of independence that is!

    Interesting though, much as i hate Trmps aims to destroy part of Scotland and to dictate to our government, i do think that international protests against inappropriate developments can be very valid and effective.

  2. I do agree that international protest is valid but I think we need to be careful about how we approach it to avoid us being portrayed as colonialists with double standards: don't do as we do, do as we say. We really do need to get our own house in order first: destroying our own unique habitats for the promise of a quick buck and a few (probably) low paid jobs is hardly setting a good example for the likes of Borneo, faced with a choice of revenue from logging and palm plantations or preserving orangutan habitats.