Thank goodness for NIMBYs

HS2 provides another example of the warped way in which we use economic justifications to damage the environment and run roughshod over people’s legitimate concerns. As with other grand national projects, Government and central authorities use forms of cost/benefit analysis to their justify actions.

This is based on the ‘utilitarian’ principle of the greatest good for the greatest number of people. In other words that the ‘benefits’ overall to society are greater than the overall ‘costs’ to society. To be clear, this is not the benefits and costs to you, or even benefits in your village against the costs in your village, it is a consideration of the value of the project ‘for Britain’ weighed against the accumulation of costs along the route and beyond. Consequently those who gain from the benefits are often different people to those who suffer the costs. In such a utilitarian approach individual ‘costs’ can be outweighed by wider social ‘good’. 

One of the UK's leading NIMBYs: “Here we are in west Oxfordshire one of the most beautiful parts of our country, set in some of England’s finest countryside. I would no more put that at risk than I would put at risk my own family” – David Cameron, January 2012

One of the UK’s leading NIMBYs: “Here we are in west Oxfordshire one of the most beautiful parts of our country, set in some of England’s finest countryside. I would no more put that at risk than I would put at risk my own family” – David Cameron, January 2012

Those who suffer the costs, in this case to their local environment, are given the pejorative label NIMBY, in an attempt to discredit their concern and paint it as a selfish and narrow minded response which damages the greater good. Don’t be swayed by this cheap rhetorical trick, NIMBYism is not only a rational response to environmental threats such as HS2, but the right response. If people don’t care about the environment they live in, why should they care about the wider environment? If we are happy to trade the environment on the basis of some notional ‘greater good’ then we inevitably and inexorably erode the natural environment.

The problem is compounded by category errors. In other words we compare apples with pears by assuming that a translation into monetary value makes them comparable. In this case the value of the benefit of saved journey times, against the value of the costs – damage to the environment – as if these are comparable costs. The inconsequential time saving of a London or Leeds business man (half an hour during which they probably just have another frothy latte and cinnamon whirl) is compared to the destruction of ancient woodland, or the misery of having your village blighted by construction work and noise, as if these things are in any way equivalent.Far from being a scourge, NIMBYs are the environmental champions of our time. People who care about where they live and what happens to it. Localism in action. The bits of ‘Big Society’ that the government is not so keen on.

Mike Townsend, Communications and Evidence Advisor


*Help us keep the ‘ancient woodland vs development’ debate alive – our Nikki discusses protection issues in our ‘Forests Report’ series:


About matinaloizou

Government Affairs Officer at the Woodland Trust
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279 Responses to Thank goodness for NIMBYs

  1. Pingback: Boris Johnson in NIMBY attack - South Heath Against HS2South Heath Against HS2

  2. Kaye Brennan says:

    … it looks like now is a good time to say “thank you all” for your ideas and views and close comments on this post. What fascinating discussion this has generated! 🙂

  3. So the world is a complex place; “we” have allowed ourselves to be placed on the global rack of competition that necessitates the elite have to have more and the masses less; people have to get from A to B and back again if (international) investment is to go anywhere other than London and the Home Counties…..or some other cherry picked part of the EU. That is, if we want to keep our standard of living, health facilities, educational facilities, pensions etc. It’s a miserable cause but that’s the situation. So extra railway capacity is required…rightly or wrongly.

    Come to Kent; I live 650 metres from HS1. It’s barely a problem. I wouldn’t like to live right next door to it but it’s not a problem because for much of its route in Kent it’s either beside the M2 or the M20 or in tunnels. The M20 has a concrete surface over several miles and there simply isn’t any comparison of noise over the wider environment – the motorway is far more problematic.

    Stick HS2 next to the M40, wiggly though it might be and I believe the NIMBY issue would largely evaporate.

    • heenan73 says:

      So long as previously proud organisations are prepared to fall into the nimby trap, trust me, it ain’t going anywhere. You’re assuming that nimbys respond positively to sound, rational argument. But that’s the point. They don’t. Nimbyism is nothing more than small-minded selfishness, and no amount of window dressing and wordplay from marketing executives (dread term) will change that.

      And if the Woodland trust feel that pandering to nimbyism makes them any friends among these selfish folk, they are sadly mistaken – if it suits them to destroy ancient woodland for a golf course, their loyalties will change overnight. Just watch.

      • Geoff says:

        To suggest that selfishness is an exclusive characteristic of ‘nimbys’ is absurd. The whole of Nature ie .every living thing including plants puts its own or its families survival first. Without selfishness nothing would have evolved and reached its present state. It’s a case of one person’s interest versus the interest of another. Some want to preserve the present flora and fauna whilst others are concerned with the interests of future business people. My main fear is that a bit like Concorde it may fail to be an economic business model and may eventually just add to our horrendous debt mountain.

        • heenan73 says:

          “To suggest that selfishness is an exclusive characteristic of ‘nimbys’ is absurd.” – but I didn’t suggest that, did I?

          They’re plenty of selfish people around, but luckily there are some who are capable – and willing – to see the big picture. And that’s the point of being members of society, isn’t it? A little bit of Benthamism? Unless, like Mrs Thatcher, you don’t believe in society (until it suits you).

          Nimbys, mind you, are among the most blinkered, small-minded and selfish of the selfish. But no, I cerainly wouldn’t suggest they have any kind of exclusivity.

          • Geoff says:

            Anyone who keeps on about Mrs Thatcher’s comment on society makes me yawn. So your philosophy is please come and do what you like in my back yard ? Yeah right. You are evidently some distance from the problem. I smell hypocrisy.

          • heenan73 says:

            “So your philosophy is please come and do what you like in my back yard ?” – I didn’t say that either; I merely suggested that some people are capable of seeing beyond their own personal perspective. But twisting the arguments is another common feature of nimbyism – and you seem to do it with practised ease. I’m wasting my time trying to have a sensible discussion, aren’t I?

          • Geoff says:

            You are obviously devoted to your ‘nimbyism’ beliefs like a religion. Some fanatics occasionally see an alternative light but very few so the odds are not in my favour to continue..

  4. Geoffrey Hannam. says:

    I believe that the biggest threat to woodland is human overpopulation. Britain is overpopulated. Migration should be cut to zero. In the year 2700, it is estimated that there will be one person per square yard over the entire land area of the planet. By 3800 the weight of humanity would exceed that of the planet Earth! That is the real problem.

  5. Julie Taylor says:
    High-speed rail opponents ‘portrayed as posh nimbys’ by peer’s lobbying firm
    “Lord Bethell’s company at centre of row over use of class divide scare tactics to promote case for route”
    … so this is how we do democracy in the UK now is it? What I would really like to know is what is HS2 really for? … I don’t think we have heard the truth on this yet at all.

    • heenan73 says:

      Most of the opposition to HS IS ‘posh nimbys’ – though I have not read that particular article (Guardian? no thanks).

      The alternative to HS2 is more road building which is much more damaging to the environment – and, of course, fatal to woodland. Intelligent campaigning about the details of the route would be much more sensible, and more likely to succeed.

      The Woodland Trust should know better than the campaign against HS2; don’t become a NIMBY organisation.

      • Julie Taylor says:

        I’m not posh, I’m a northern peasant! … but I am very glad there are plenty people willing to stand up and be counted on this issue – people who care deeply about the amount of ancient woodland that will be trashed for this train line, for example.

        I’m with Kate in her statement above on ‘semantics’ ….
        “what NIMBY-ism denotes is an opposition to something happening local to where one lives. It is precisely that it has developed the connotation of intolerance and an unwillingness to sacrifice one’s local environment that I object to.”

        I think it is only right for the Woodland Trust to stand up for the trees!

        • heenan73 says:

          There’s more than one way to ‘stand up for the trees’, and it’s very sad that the Trust has chosen a way that is (a) doomed to failure and (b) even if it were successful, would simply lead to more roads – a much worse option for the environment in general, and Woodland in particular.

          A constructive approach could have achieved route compromises to protect woods, and co-operating with HS2 could have gained wooded margins to the track, which would protect the NIMBYs from that awful noise (much less than motorways), as well as providing a haven and living corridor for wildlife and palnts alike.

          But alas, we have a knee-jerk reaction that is as sad as it is futile. Awful for ‘the trees’, and a disappointing illustration of the Woodland Trust’s judgement. A short-term victory for nimby-ism, a long-term loss for us all.

          • Julie Taylor says:

            The problem that has become apparent is that it is impossible to have a constructive approach with this government … everything has to be their way or nobody’s … and we still don’t really know what this trainline is really for.

          • Alec Dingwall says:

            You make what I think is a sound point in your middle paragraph. It swings me to some extent (and illustrates the greater power of moderate, argued agitation — as distinct from noisy OTT ranting).

          • Geoff says:

            The trouble is that the acronym ‘NIMBY’ was originally meant as an insult and it has stuck. Even so nobody would invite undesirable change into their own surroundings so everyone thinking logically has ‘nimby’ inclinations. Some imagine we should be more altruistic but that’s probably unrealistic except for masochists.

          • Alec Dingwall says:

            That’s very much what I said far back in these exchanges of opinion. There’s sense and rightness on both — indeed many — sides.

  6. Kaye Brennan says:

    Mike has asked me to post on his behalf …. Firstly on semantics, NIMBY doesn’t ‘denote’ …intolerant refusal to sacrifice marginal personal benefits for the wider good… as an early comment suggests, although it may ‘connote’ it. In other words, what NIMBY-ism denotes is an opposition to something happening local to where one lives. It is precisely that it has developed the connotation of intolerance and an unwillingness to sacrifice one’s local environment that I object to.

    It is the role of civil society to raise concerns, voice objections and highlight injustices. Sometimes these conflict both with the Government and with other interest groups. The point of the blog was to raise awareness of the use a rhetorical trope – NIMBYism – as a way of dismissing legitimate concerns without proper consideration.

    Ultimately of course the Government must decide the balance of interests – this is why we elect governments and why we are able to vote them in and throw them out. If there was a single compelling political and economic theory which bound us all and simultaneously expressed personal and collective interests, then all decisions would be easy and we wouldn’t need governments.

    It is thus the case that national interests sometimes overhaul local interests, and sometimes the other way round. Our proper role – as an organisation within civil society representing the interests of woodland – is to object to HS2 on the basis of the damage to woodland. We would be failing in our role if we were ‘reasonable’(1) in the sense that we weighed the interests of woodland against the interests of business or even local pressure groups. These other groups will of course represent their own interests or that of their beneficiaries. Government must then decide between these competing claims.

    (1. This by-the-way, is another rhetorical device sometimes levelled against charities – that they are ‘unreasonable’. It is not the job of charities to be ‘reasonable’, it is their job to represent the interests of their beneficiaries. It is then the job of government to use reasoned judgement of the course of action.)

    I’m glad this post has stimulated such discussion. These are key issues for environmental (or indeed any) ethical consideration. Does the wider social ‘good’ trump individual rights? How do you consider the rights and interests of future generations? Does non-human life have rights? If you think this sounds fanciful, consider that companies have rights and can be represented legally, although companies are not people they are independent entities! So, does a river or a wood have ‘rights’? If so how are these represented and weighed? How do you balance the ‘willingness to pay’ within affluent societies or regions, against those of the less affluent? And so on…

    (Comments will close for this post on Friday.)

    • heenan73 says:

      A naive and silly misunderstanding of the term. NIMBYism “Not In MY Back Yard”, is by definition, a selfish and blinkered approach. It is saying ‘this [thing] is awful, but I really don’t care so long as someone else suffers”.

      The Woodland Trust is sadly – and damagingly – misguided in pretending it is anything else.

      For those of us who have followed the HS2 plans from the start, HS2 is a much, much better option for the environment long term – both in terms of less road building, and less road use. And ultimately, less woodland destruction. To ignore ‘the greater good’ is a betrayal of long term supporters.

      A more positive approach would have achieved saving most – if not all – of the threatened woods, and could have also made gains in terms of wooded margins and more.

  7. Richard Cork says:

    I think it is ridiculous and dangerous to try and ‘convert’ the term NIMBY into something positive. The emphasis in NIMBYism is: Not In MY Backyard – i.e. put it in someone else’s. Environmental objections are about the impact on and detriment to the environment upon which, in the long run, we all depend. We should not be suggesting that the natural environment in one place is of more worth or importance than in another. NIMBYISM, by definition, is about narrow self-interest. It is the antithesis of environmentalism and to flirt with it in any shape or form is dangerous. I want no part of any organisation that tries to rehabilitate such reactionary selfishness. It is counterproductive and shameful.

    • David says:

      I could not agree more. WT does not need such nonsense nor any other stupid acronym!

  8. In this country we are lacking a serious 21st century fast rail infrastructure like they enjoy in France, Germany and Japan. We need this and of course it needs to be done in a highly environmental fashion. NIMBY is about protecting your own highly inflated house prices with little regard to the common good – not quite the same thing !!

  9. Tony Elwood says:

    NIMBY’s are self centred selfish people. We are a small island so should not be too concerned about the countryside. There are plenty of open spaces in the world. Unless we want to be a third world poor country, we need to build houses, 4 lane highways and railways where the overall economy will benefit. Individual selfishness needs to be trodden on for the greater good of the economy.

    • Mo says:

      Most of the so called NIMBY’s here are not self centred selfish people. Yes we are a small island which is why we should be concerned about our countryside. We do not need to build more huses. 4lane highways & railways as the overall economy you refer to will not benefit. There are far too many people on this tiny island of ours now with more to come over the years. We need to make sure that we are not completely concreted over in those years to come.
      Obviously you see nothing worthwhile at Woodland Trust so would you please explain why you are on this site?

    • David says:

      Your first sentence is correct, but although I have argued vehemently along these lines, I cannot agree with your comments. It is because we are a small island that destructive development must be subject to proper scrutiny having due regards to the greater good and national development. Unfortunately growth is somewhat of a holy grail for all our Governments – clearly unending growth is impossible and unsustainable and new thinking is needed.

  10. Nick says:

    Of course people are most active in trying to protect their own local environment – precisely because they are the ones who can best appreciate it. No-one can really know the value in amenity terms of an area which they have never visited. By defending your own wild places, you are effectively working to preserve them for anyone who might live in or visit the area in the future. Others will campaign for areas which you might not know, but might visit or even live in at some future time. All local groups opposing environmemtal destruction should be seen as pieces in the overall jigsaw of nationwide or even global action.
    As for HS2 – as someone who travels quite frequently on the east coast main rail line, I can see no reason why the journeys need to be made any faster. Why are people always in such a hurry? Even the ridiculous ‘time is money’ mantra is no longer sustainable, since so many people seem to go on conducting their business affairs on the train, with little or no concern for their fellow-travellers.

  11. Anna says:

    Great blog post with which I wholly agree.
    Though I do have to say that I doubt most of the people that are in disagreement with HS2 (myself included) are not NIMBYs, but people that do not want HS2 at all, anywhere in the UK!
    I don’t disagree with HS2 because it will affect my local environment, in fact it won’t directly affect me at all; I oppose it because it is unnecessary, expensive and a real threat to very valuable and irreplaceable habitats in the UK.

    If we want to encourage people to use public transport then I agree that the money should be spent investing in improving existing rail networks and local transport.

    The reality is that most business commuters – from what I can establish this is the only group of people to whom HS2 is aimed at benefiting – will take a train for that journey anyhow. And let us not forget that business commuters are probably, individually, ‘NIMBYs’ themselves.

    The reason I dislike using the term NIMBY is because it infers that you would be happy to have this ‘development’ happen elsewhere, just not within your landscape. The governement are trying to belittle environmental opposition to HS2 by dismissing protesters in this way.

    Perhaps we need to send a clear message that this is not NIMBY opposition this is NAA (not at all) opposition?

  12. John Ellis says:

    I’m sure that all those objecting to HS2 would love to live by Drax or Hinkley Point power stations.

  13. Keith Chilvers says:

    The vast majority of the vast devastation that has been done to our country in the last 60 years, with the exception of motorway building, has been incremental and piecemeal – its a quarry here, an out-of-town supermarket there, an airport here, an open-cast mine there – so each issue tends to be localised, and although strategic initiatives to influence government policy are important the real battles are always at a local level, and local people, local protesters, are the front-line infantry (and the probable casualties) in those battles. Strategic initiatives alone cannot save our countryside and our woods from destruction, we need those local people who will stand up fight for their home turf. To disparage them as NIMBYS is at best short-sighted and at worst snobbery.

  14. Geoffrey Hannam says:

    In reply to some Emails. I did not refine the word NIMBY by using NIABY. You can still use NIMBY! Not in anyone’s back yard, NIABY merely adds another acronym type word.

  15. Duncan White says:

    I’m very sorry to see someone from a brilliant organisation like the Woodland Trust saying something so stupid. Mike’s article says that someone suffering the “cost” – disruption – gets labelled a NIMBY when they complain. This makes no distinction between two very different situations:

    NIMBY-Me: I agree that project X is for the greater good, but I object to it beause of the local disruption. This really is NIMBY behaviour, selfish and hypocritical!

    PRINCIPLED-Me: I oppose project X wherever it might be for reasons A B and C, and worse still, project X is happening near me and will cause local disruption.

    In the latter case, I am not being a NIMBY, I’m presenting (hopefully sensible) arguments. I quite agree it’s unfair if someone tries to label you a NIMBY in this case, but you can then argue with them about that. That doesn’t mean you redefine the term NIMBY without half of it’s definition!

    May I suggest people who agreed with Mike’s article (assuming they disapprove of HS2) reread the article with “HS2” replaced with something they approve of, such as “windfarm” or “school” or “hospital”. Any building project will inconvenience some people and advantage others. If we don’t use techniques like cost/benefit analysis and utilitarianism to decide which projects to go ahead with, how does any project ever get the go ahead?

    • Anna says:

      I think the point of this article may be that the government are using the term ‘NIMBY’ to discredit opposition to HS2 when in actual fact, the argument is not, ‘not in my back yard’ but ‘no to HS2!’.

      I am strongly opposed to HS2 – I don’t know what I can do about this – and its construction will not affect my local environment one bit.

      If genuine NIMBYs are able to object to HS2 with the effect of the construction being prevented then all the better for the rest of us who do not seem to be able to have a say so.

      • David says:

        I am not so sure of my facts on HS2, but for sure we, the inventor of the railway, are lagging behind. My gut feel is that we do need a modern rail network, and not just in the South East where high speed lines already operate. France’s TGVs seem a great success, we need something similar reaching not to Birmingham but the far North to take traffic out of the skies and of the roads. The overall benefits and negatives may be imponderable. With an attitude of total opposition to infrastructure development we would not have railways or motorways. I support the WT policy of constructive engagement, but not this NIMBY notion – it is damaging credibility and stupid. Of course genuine opposition to HS2 and the like must be supported as long as it is based on sound economic and environmental argument, not NIMBY Luddism!

        • Mike K says:

          “With an attitude of total opposition to infrastructure development we would not have railways or motorways.” I don’t think many are supportive of total opposition to infrastructure development, David. It’s just that many of us who are getting a raw deal from Government in lack of infrastructure support of a simpler and cheaper kind cannot understand how we can suddenly find billions for a prestige project of this kind. Many other parts of the country are crying out for some of those billions. Our District Council has the same problems as many others yet gets penalised by all Governments with larger reductions in grant support than most other districts. Yet, the vast majority of us residents are just average working class with the same needs and aspirations of better supported boroughs. We are currently the dumping ground for vast new housing developments, new nuclear reactor and attendant massive 400kv new power lines, large scale retired migration putting pressures on social & health care and we have accepted massive spread of roads and motorways over the years with very little complaint. What we desperately need is better busses and branch rail link to the national system and for local mass rapid transit of people and products. So far “No money available for the foreseeable future” has been the cry. Perhaps we need to start a revolution in the West to get our share of public infrastructure investment that seems to be so readily available to the Midlands, London, the East and South East. We all pay in, we all deserve equal withdrawals. The real answer about the relatively sudden decision to build HST2, regardless of our oh so dreadful economic plight, is pressure from our European Dictators.

          • David says:

            As I said, not sure about HS2, but sometimes visionary projects are important for the distant future we cannot see, whether HS2 qualifies is a mute point, but doubt it has much to do with our European tormentors! Much of what you say I agree with – you should experience our buses in rural SE not 30 miles from London! Problem is the only people using them don’t pay so the service gets withdrawn!!!!! The real problem is convenience, I have just used a bus from a US airport on an 18 mile journey – it cost $1.25 – but still no-one uses it ‘cos it takes 1.5 hours, only the poor use it!!!! No easy answers I am afraid!

          • tlankester says:

            There are some persistent myths recurring in these comments that need to be put to bed:
            1) it is not about speed, it is about capacity. Looking 20 years ahead, incremental improvements to the west coast main line will reach a limit and the need to shift freight from road to (electric, low carbon) rail will be stymied unless pressure is taken off with a new line designed to remove the conflict between intercity and local / freight traffic. Once that decision is made ht enext question is shold we buiild C20 spec track or C21, continental spec track for a relatively small incremental costs increase. That is how you end up with HS2 being high speed.

            2) we don’t have the money space now for this. HS2 is a medium to long term project so the current sped level, in this current economic climate, are quite low.

            3) we should invest to improve the existing infrastructure now. True but then the government is, to the tune of 37bn up to 2019 ( And again, these investments are being made to decarbonise our transport system with significant electriification also reducing in our dependence on imported fossil fuel and exposure to volatility on international markets.

            There are UK to global envionmental benefits to HS2 and transport electriification.
            It is unbalanced to consider just the local environmental impacts in isolation. We should be working to minimise these (avoiding ancient wood and getting additional woodland set aside).
            Unilaterally trying to redefine the ‘N word’ just seems fractious (as this comment tread has demonstrated) and will just confuse the public in general.

  16. N.I.M.B.Y. Was originally created as a derisory term for people who want certain services or luxuries but have no wish to live next to where they originate.

    I am wholly in support of all that the Woodland Trust is doing for our countryside but I believe it is unwise to try and claim such a term that is so ingrained with negative, hypocritical thinking.

    Whilst I can’t think of one right now, I believe it would be time well spent to think of a new catchy phrase that could describe those people who care for their local environment & wish to do all that they can to protect it.

  17. King Mikhel says:

    Stout words, Keith, what UK freedom are you on about? We are now subservient to the dictates of the EU and their filth columnists among our population! We even have new laws that prevent many of us from speaking our minds for fear of the thought police (and even the real Police too – if in merely someone else’s opinion an innocent comment is seen as offensive to them!)
    Our Fathers and Grandfathers also fought two terrible wars to prevent Germanic domination of Europe, and that is precisely what we are quietly and steadily sleep walking into right this minute! So all that fighting failed to stem our domination after all!
    Prior to that, those of us descended from the earliest known Brit’s have fought AND eventually LOST against Franco Germanic Celts, Scots & Picks from Ireland, the Romans, Angles & Saxons invaders, Danish and Norwegian Vikings and Norsemen settled in Northern France who invaded in 1066 to settle a Viking family feud with the Saxons!. So we real Brit’s have had to put up with quite a lot demanded by our overbearing mixed invaders that we now term “English”.
    You are all foreigners to us Real British, who have taken over and carved up our land! What with your weird religions and desire to keep “developing” and going to frequent wars (you’re embroiled in another at the moment and itching to join a couple of others!) You cut down all our lovely oaks and trees to make warships, forts and weapons and planted to few back. You all seem to enjoy enslaving people (even to this day!) and will quite happily cut each other up – rather than work for the common good. If only we had won against those early invaders! But please do not confuse your ‘gererations’ of ancestors desires with those of us less hypocritical, peace loving, nature and tree loving real Britons! Nemo me impune lacessit! (to borrow another’s phrase!)

    • Geoff says:

      As E. Powell warned 40 odd years ago our nation is gradually committing suicide. Without doubt permanence is not the way Nature works.and for many people our rapid undesirable change is disturbing.Too many factors are now involved for a happy or different ending. The process has been going on far too long. Now in my eighties I shall not see the end-game but have got very pessimistic. Perhaps damage reduction is our only realistic hope.

      • King Mikhel of the Britons says:

        My sentiments too, Geoff! (Although I thought to amuse my readers too!) Pity we cannot put wise old heads on young shoulders, I’ve just had 38 Degrees on to say that the Government is now seeking to implement powers to force GP’s to open up more health services to private companies! Thank goodness our time is coming to a close. We have lived through some of the best decades for ordinary people! “That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain. The happy highways where I went and cannot come again” (A. E Houseman, ‘The Far Country” from A Shropshire Lad collection). Pour a glass of British wine and have a lovely evening!

  18. Keith Cilvers says:

    The idea that it is somehow acceptable to shunt people aside, shatter their communities, destroy their local environment, bulldoze their homes and lay waste to everything they have loved and worked for all their lives in pursuit of some hoped for “greater good” is a concept of pure totalitarianism that has no place in England. At its root NIMBYism is based firmly in the rights and freedoms of the English people and to deride NIMBYism is to deride those rights and freedoms and the gererations of our ancestors who fought and died for them.

    Man the barricades!

    • David says:

      What trite nonsense. I guess you are a true NIMBY! Never used the motorways, the railways, the ports, the airports? We cannot put the clock back or stand still. Each new development must be judged on its merits and not opposed just because..! Even WT recognise that. The WT role must be to monitor, engage and moderate to save ancient Woodlands, ensure proper management of commercial woodland with access for all. If this idea goes through, I for one am out and I see there are many other like minded. This is damaging WT credibility not furthering the cause at all.

      • Keith Chilvers says:

        If you make assumptions about other people’s lifestyles you risk undermining your own argument. I used a seaport once, to catch a ferry for a holiday on the Isle of Wight, but as I was only seven years old at the time I discaim responsibility for that. I do not drive a motor vehicle, and if I did I would prefer highways and byeways to motorways. I have never used an airport, the only time I left the ground was from a grass field with rabbits running around in it for a trip round in a 1930’s biplane. Certainly I use trains, those little local services that stop at every station and serve all the communities along the way, running on tracks that were laid down 150 years ago. The thought of being whisked across the country at 250mph would fill me with horror.

        I am a make-do-and mender, a repair and recycler, I buy as little as I can and always try to buy from local shops, local and preferably hand-made products. If I feel cold I would rather put on a jumper than put on heating. My focus is, as far as possible within the constraints of the society in which we live, to minimise my consumption of resources and my impact on the earth.

        As far as “my backyard” goes I am much more concerned about other people’s backyards. The patchwork of smallholdings, market gardens and fishponds that once formed my backyard (according to the 1828 map) was built over by the Victorians, bombed by the Lufwaffe and devastated by the post-war town planners, but what little is left is now assiduously protected by the BMW-owning classes that have flooded into the area in the last decade, and who are very ready to take up arms against anything that may prove detrimental to the property values of their half-million pound Victorian terraced cottages. (In case you have not guessed by now, I live in the terribly-trendy East End of London).

        So you see if the definition of a NIMBY is someone who wants the development, but not on their own patch then I sadly fail to qualify, (although many of my wealthy neighbours do I guess, and I’m very glad they’re here), as I don’t want it on anybody’s patch. So it looks like I’ll just have to settle for being a Luddite and leave NIMBYing to those who are better qualified.

  19. Anne Taylor says:

    I wholeheartedly support any action to protect our countryside, but I do not think using Nimby is a good idea. It is a negative expression – not in my backyard – and I never want to be associated with people who have that sort of narrow view of things. I think it could turn people off.

    I think a more positive phrase, not borrowed from elsewhere would be more empowering.

  20. Maggie Thomas says:

    The problem is so many only say “Not in my backyard”, but are not interested when it’s in someone-esle’s backyard. Those who have power and influence are often successful NIMBYs whereas those who are less eloquent or not so well educated, who do not have links to those in power have all the crap in their backyard.

  21. Keith Cilvers says:

    I am proud to be a NIMBY, Nimbys are people who care about their homes, their environment and the quality of life. Faced as we are by a development – mad government that appears intent on laying waste to not only our countryside but our cities, towns and villages too we need every Nimby we can get to stand up, stand together and say “not in my backyard, and not in anybody’s backyard”.

  22. Alexandra Houghton Marshall says:

    I support nymbyism and all you do and campaign for. We have to stand firm against such oppression. Our politicians have become elitist, dictatorial and undemocratic. Denying our basic rights constantly.
    We do care about our environment and it is not something to be sold to the highest bidder and the greediest. Sadly however that is too often the case so how refreshing to see the Woodlands Trust showing lots of backbone and standing up for our heritage against this kind of oppression.
    Thank you

    • David says:

      We vote for the politicians, so we get what we ask for! Its a democracy, can you find something better? So, you are one of those people who will happily enjoy something as long as it is not in your back yard, for that is what a NIMBY is. A selfish, insular person. No doubt you use the roads, the trains, the airports, etc – think about it. We don’t need this appalling epithet or any other. WT must focus on protecting our ancient and local woodlands and the management of commercial woodlands for the benefit of all and not, as they themselves have said get mired in controversies and risk being marginalised. This association with NIMBY is a very stupid notion.

  23. B.J.Tout says:

    We can do better than throw insults at one another. There ARE those who wish their piece of countryside to remain unchanged, for their own particular enjoyment, and who do not welcome outsiders to share their good fortune. These are the sort of NIMBYS we should all shun. If our countryside is to benefit all of us we need to concentrate on ensuring free access to our woodlands and open spaces. Maybe too we should put more effort into mitigating losses rather than blindly opposing every change.

  24. Jacqueline Baynes says:

    Good article!!! Thought provoking – we just need a new word – I found a NIABY at a post – NIMBY could be NIOBY Not in Our Back Yards. Its good to see so many positive feedbacks …….

    • David says:

      Nonsense! I am appalled at the short sighted majority who seem to embrace NIMBYism. Its a bad idea. A NIMBY is someone who is quite happy to take advantage, but won’t have it on their patch. Thats selfish and insular. We do not need any stupid acronym. We need a sound campaign to protect ancient woodlands and manage commercial woodlands for the benefit of all, not be marginalised as environmental fanatics. Is that what you want. If this idea flies then so will I and my support will be at an end!

      • tlankester says:

        Here, here.
        And I see no benefit to the Trust in supporting localised environmental benefits against national and (in terms of climate change) international ones. Stick to protecting any (ancient) woods affected directly by HS2 and don’t get dragged into a debate about the project as a whole.

  25. Mike Davies says:

    Mike Townsend’s comments are insightful and considered; qualities not shown by those who casually label woodland campaigners as NIMBY’s. But, then again, as Mike suggests, why not embrace the term and recognise the essential role that NIMBY’s play in protecting the environment? Although, maybe the term should be NIABY – not in anybody’s back yard, when it comes to ensuring the preservation of ancient woodland.

    Mike Davies

    • David says:

      Thats the whole point, I for one do not want to be labelled a NIMBY or any other stupid acronym, though I care deeply for the preservation of ancient woodland and the beneficial use of commercial woodland. We cannot avoid development and change, but it can be managed in an environmentally appropriate way. Not in anyones back yard is just Luddism!

  26. Robin says:

    Canada climbed out of financial Catharsis in two years,their nhs is available to Own citizens,they Kept Capital projects going,as did Australia…Iceland owes UK £3billion EU £400billion since 1973…nimbys indeed UK is 10th,England 3rd most Densely populated Country on Planet

  27. Robin says:

    Slagging off Ukip.proves they ‘Must’be right…RAF Manston or RAF Northolt already have infrastructure to expand.HSpeed connection should join up Airports in south first.In the time Heathrow decides one runway ,China will build 200 Airports, UK is Competeing with EU and rest of the world for Business,runway should be built now. Political class by deciding on ‘Green’Stupidity and windfarms instead of Gas fired,Coal with gas,Nuclear will ensure Powercuts by 2015

  28. G Scott says:

    I think a lot of time and energy could be taken up in trying to redefine an acronym which was invented as an insult in the first place and has too many negative connotations. I think that it would be better to create something new that would be both imbued with universal values and act as a rejoinder to that very tired and overused term.

  29. jonobe says:

    I think you have to be careful about attempting to change the meaning of the word NIMBY, although I think it is worth discussing. NIMBY refers to a type of person who wants the benefits of something (eg. eco-fuel) but wants someone else to suffer the negative consequences (eg, wind turbine nearby). You are right, however, to challenge those that call people who care about their environment ‘NIMBYs’. They Call Others Nimbys (but it’s a CON).
    Caring about our environment is a positive thing and needs to be distinguished from NIMBYISM, rather than labelled as such.

  30. Geoffrey Hannam says:

    I think that the word NIMBY should be replaced by the word NIABY, ie. NOT IN ANYONES BACK YARD. This, I believe, would reclaim the moral high ground because it is not the selfish MY but the more friendly ANYONE. So people who want the high speed rail stopped are also thinking about the greater good of stopping the destruction of woods even though they are not directly effected by the route themselves.

    • Maureen Hart says:

      I agree. I will not be affected by HS2 but have been affected by building over farm & forest so feel the need to all join together no matter what we get called. It is not in my backyard but in my country.

  31. Eric Yaffey says:

    Not in ANYONE’S back yard !

    • Tony says:

      I entirely agree.

      Tony. Proud to be a Nimby

    • David says:

      So you don’t use the trains, the boats, the roads, the airports! Sound like a true NIMBY!!

      • Clive Anthony Ramsey says:

        When we allow Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and SSSI and Ancient Woodlands to be destroyed it is like PROSTITUTING YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER. It loses the point altogether. Surely it is the things we love and care for that matter and we should protect for future generations to enjoy. They is not selfish. It is just like trying to stop a Yobbo from continuing their behaviour and getting them to sit back and realise what they are doing and its consequences. for othe rpeople.

        • David says:

          What a stupid disgusting remark. Of course Woodland Trust should stand up for those things and campaign vigorously to protect them. But not stand in the way of progress, and like it or not new infrastructure is needed. WT itself recognises this. I do not want to be seen as selfish NIMBY! Whilst not having a firm view on HS2, I think we do need high speed trains, or at least a better network. That inevitably means some countryside is lost. WT role is to minimise that impact by engagement, which they do. Anything else is Luddism.

          • Alec Dingwall says:

            In a kind of bombardment of remarks, David has become personal and over-insistent to the point of offensiveness. He has made his point many times over, often with roughness and rudeness. He does not need to seek to blot out the no-less-valid opinions of others.

          • Geoff says:

            Depends on what you mean by ‘progress’ and whether the planned ‘infrastructure’ will be needed so much by the time it is ready to be used and whether it is all affordable. Could easily be another Concorde eventually.

  32. Pingback: STOP HS2 | More news items on HS2

  33. Liz Jones says:

    Money isn’t everything and its about time the government realised that biodiversity and beauty are necessary for us to live. In the future we may find that this is absolutely vital so we need to preserve what we have.

    We take woods and make and industrial hell hole and when we’ve finished we don’t even clean it up. We moan when foxes walk the city streets yet we’ve taken their homes. We kill birds and rabbits for taking our food but we take all the land.

    EVERYONE needs to protect their own back yard to keep the countryside, woods and animals and if we all look after our own bit, the whole will be protected. Not one of us can protect the whole so we do it in bite sized pieces and club together for the big problems.

    Or perhaps we should just mock them for protecting their own bank accounts – that certainly is an act of selfishness and I’ll bet none of them will be living next to HS2.

  34. Colin Overton says:

    Nimbies are selfish, usually silly middle class people. They are only interested in their own little bit of the world, the rest can go to hell. They are deeply unattractive and often ill informed. For them there is no “greater good” only me me me me. What happened to true civil service and giving away something for the community or country.

  35. John Cahill says:

    The problem is, the word NIMBY suggests that the despised development would be just fine in Someone Else’s Backyard, so rather than open oneself up to an accusation of selfishness, it would be better to make the case against schemes such as HS2 altogether. There are many environmental as well as financial grounds for opposing this vanity project which will only benefit the better off, and even then not by much, unless being insulated from the hoi polloi is taken into account, which, on reflection, it probably is.

  36. Pam says:

    We do not need HS2. I agree with everything in the article.

  37. As a landscape architect I’ve seen more than enough damage to our natural and productive landscape under the wheels of bulldozers carried out in the name of economic ‘progress’. There is far too strong an orthodoxy within the political, professional and commercial spheres that planning must revolve around economics alone – a false paradigm when viewed in the long run, because a healthy economy ultimately relies upon the capacity of the landscape to be productive, and of the willingness of people to live in it. Currently the health of our economy is linked to the availability of cheap resources from overseas; a situation which, with global development, increasing population and increasingly limited fuel supplies, cannot continue indefinitely. Hence, the big gap in government thinking with regard to the economy, the landscape and the environment in general is how to strategically manage the resources on our doorstep to ensure the regions, districts and our communities are resilient in the long term – i.e. relying less on external inputs and being better connected locally. With that starting point in mind, one-stop ‘solutions’ such as HS2 would never get a look-in because they ‘connect’ only a few centres which are already relatively strong but do nothing to serve the interests of the vast majority of the population. And, more importantly in this discussion, starting by considering ourselves as part of an environment in which we must co-exist with thousands of other organisms for the good of the whole would mean that environmentally damaging proposals would be laughed out of court.

  38. louwriter says:

    HS2 and other ‘developments’ are busy wreaking the destruction of trees, woodlands, agricultural land, open spaces, greenways, bridle paths, all sorts of yards, whether they be yours or someone else’s. This is happening while people….yes, even people who are supposed to care about and understand the implications for the entire planet are arguing about why or whether they need to care or not.! You couldn’t make it up!! Right now, Manchester City Council is halfway through felling 400 mature trees in Alexandra Park, Whalley Range…please sign the petition to try and stop this., it’s on Facebook…. or go up there to join the camp.
    This is happening all over the UK because trees are defenceless and have no voice. It’s happening as private developers lay waste to hundred and thousands of trees, aided by the NPPF, a developers charter in EVERYBODY’S back yard. You see everything is joined up. THIS IS HAPPENING BECAUSE WE LET IT.. WE COULD SO EASILY STOP IT BY, for example, JOINING the people who have set up camp to try and stop it. or by registering our voices at every level. At a Tree Wardens meeting the other night, I tried asking members to support the camp by going up there. After listening grudgingly to what was being said, the meeting swiftly glossed over this butchery. Why?? Because it was not in our back yard! The developers will find it so much easier when they come to a tree near you or I and get their chainsaws out. Will you wonder why others are not coming to your aid when this happens?
    United we stand by all trees., Divided we and they fall. We need a Tree Protection Squad. I rest my case.

    • David says:

      Trees are a renewable resource and many of our forests are commercial and rightly so. What I expect of the Trust is to campaign for our right of access to these areas, campaign against clear felling, campaign to preserve ancient woodlands and the random felling of trees for unfounded safety reasons etc. Trees are not immortal, there has to well managed progress – this is what we should be doing, not campaigning willy nilly to save all trees – its daft. Wonder how many contributors here have wood burning stoves – around me trees are mysteriously disappearing – wonder why?!!!

      • Liz Jones says:

        Looking at it like that humans are a renewable resource and yet we (rightly) fight to save the life of everyone of us – I just extend that policy to protecting animals and trees – I accept that life has to use life to survive but try to limit the damage I do – though I’m far from perfect (but don’t own a wood burning stove:-) ).

        I think the point is that if we allow the felling of the forests we won’t get the land back to grow more trees so they are not renewable and I intensely hate the term resource when applied to any living thing.

        The main problem is there are far too many people and all of us treat the world like a renewable resource put there for our convenience alone. I am fearful that we are likely to sincerely regret this so it is better that we prevent it now – one tree at a time if necessary.

        • jonobe says:

          You don’t like the idea of ‘resource’ but food is a resource. Which is ‘renewable’ in the sense you mean.

        • David says:

          So what do you expect to live on? Power your car? Provide your lighting? Your notion is too idealistic. We must remain practical and oppose the loss of woodland, not its use. Even then there infrastructure needs which are essential for which our voice, and I think WT agree, should be moderating to get the best solution for all. Certainly we do not want to be marginalised as fanatics or NIMBYs who oppose everything on principle!

  39. Kurt says:

    We live in a modern era where politics and general bad manners have taught a corrupt minority, that it is ‘acceptable’ to invent nicknames for people who do not conform to their (often incorrect) ideals. I wholeheartedly applaude the Woodland Trust for all that it does to fight and protect our sacred and fast disappearing natural woodland and enviroments. I say (particularly as a nature respecting pagan!) that anybody who does not care about protecting, appriciating and respecting our natural enviroment and natural world, as a priority, for both ourselves and future generations, does not deserve to be respected in our society at all. ALL people shoudl care equally about ALL natural enviroments, and not just their own locality. All of nature is in control of us, and not the other way around. All of nature is interconnected. What effects one locality or aspect, also eventually affects all others. Regardless of what a NIMBY is or isn’t, those who are trying to negatively scapegoat others who rightly do care about our natural world, should take a much deeper look at themselves and the consequences for their actions. Blessed be our mother earth.

  40. Jan Church says:

    Just re-read Gerard Manley Hopkins ‘Binsey Poplars’ – says it all really. An early NIMBY?

    ‘When we hew or delve
    After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.’

  41. Ordinary Man says:

    Yes, I suppose being a NIMBY is a well deserved stigma. The term is quite rightly associated with groups and individuals who usually want all the positive benefits of any proposed developments but not in their own ‘back yard’. Mostly the good and kindly NIMBY’s of South Oxfordshire do’nt want a very large water storage reservoir all landscaped as a water park for Thames Valley Water Co, but I suspect they may prefer it to say, a Chinese Nuclear Power Station or the HS2 or a couple of dozen Wind Generators, but they’ve never been asked to object to date.
    I object to the HS2 and it’s not even near ‘my back yard’ !! What does that make me?

  42. Mike McNamara says:

    Good article and very relevant for these times.

  43. PETER CUTHBERT says:

    Have been a NIMBY for many years, particularly regarding the Clee Hill and Catherton commons where I live. I am also a YIMBY for the activities of groups like the Commoners who graze the area, the local Hertitage people who care for area, the English Nature workers and other such groups. Good luck to anyone who stands up for the preservation of our woodlands.
    Peter Cuthbert

    • David says:

      Many people are losing site of the fact that true NIMBYs do not care about the issue itself but just do not want it near them – near someone else is fine for them! Do you want to be one of those insular selfish people?

  44. Mike Mitchell says:

    My wife and I are delighted to be called nimbies if our support for your campaigns helps us deserve such a term of endearment

    • Clive Anthony Ramsey says:

      When we allow Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and SSSI and Ancient Woodlands to be destroyed it is like PROSTITUTING YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER. It loses the point altogether. Surely it is the things we love and care for that matter and we should protect for future generations to enjoy. This is not selfish. It is just like trying to stop a Yobbo from continuing their behaviour and getting them to sit back and realise what they are doing and its consequences. for other people.We need to help them appreciate what is there. That is why improved access for people from deprived areas is important – so they can get to understand why we care about these things. One thing to consider is involving mosques and Muslim people. For many of them care about these matters has not been part of their culture. We must educate our new neighbours.

  45. Novvy Allan says:

    I agree that NIMBY is too easy to use negatively and could be counter-productive
    however what about
    Not In My Biodiverse Yard

  46. Dr V Hill says:

    We need a system more like that in Iceland where they have DIRECT DEMOCRACY rather than an elitist attitude that puts down its thinking public…

    • David says:

      There are only a few hundred thousand people in Iceland – anyway look where that got them in the financial crisis. WE elect our leaders to take decisions, we may not agree but it is typically British to throw rocks from the sidelines. This NIMBY idea is bad because a true Nimby is one who really doesn’t care, just wants it in someone else’s back yard.

      • jonobe says:

        Iceland have climbed out their dark recession days now, having solved their financial crisis. Unlike, er, us and most of the rest of the world.

        • David says:

          And who do you think baled them out? Do you really believe 320 million Icelanders have the financial capacity to fill that hole. Do the maths! Anyway off topic. Anyway I really dont like this NIMBY suggestion as I think it can damage WT credibility as a serious body campaigning for our countryside – which I support.

          • Peter Wilson says:

            Do the maths indeed. I think you’ll find the whole of Europe has perhaps around 320 million inhabitants; Iceland by comparison has some 300,000. To their credit, the Icelanders are busy jailing their bankers, paying off debts and generally getting their economy back in order.
            This digression takes us a long way from the original premise of this discussion, however, which was the impact HS2 would have on England’s green and pleasant land and the Woodland Trust’s bizarre (certainly to me) notion that allying itself and its membership with the corrosive attitude of NIMBY’s was a sensible and appropriate way of reacting to this challenge to the country’s forests and woodland. I’m now beginning to realise from many of the comments posted so far that the Woodland Trust appears to have let itself become the environmental wing of UKIP and I’m seriously wondering whether this is an organisation I wish to remain a member of.

  47. Dr V Hill says:

    This ‘name calling is an old tactic that seems to be prevalent both here and in the US to discredit opposition. They have started on the anti GMOs people by calling them ‘picky eaters’. A term I find most distasteful as a scientist as I can clearly see there are serious scientific reasons for concern. I think we need to somehow highlight the fact that we have now recognised this method as a dirty tactic and perhaps turn it around upon the government and those willing to mock its own public.

  48. Mike Carpenter says:

    I do not like the term!
    The proposed line is no where near my BY—but I think it is a stupid waste of resourses–money,land,ancient woodland etc., just to cut the journey time between the cities concerned by something in the order of thirty minutes!!

  49. Duncan says:

    Everybody should be a nimby. If WE don’t protect our own ‘backyard’ who will? Wherever you live, you should have a sense of ownership and take responsbility for looking after that place, and defending it against those who would damage or destroy it. Its a duty, a social responsibility and a moral obligation.

  50. Marie says:

    Nimbyism is good, valuable and to be encouraged if we are to save our country from so called “developers” because our heritage is importantr for those who come after us. As Griff Rhys Jones said, “Those who stand up for thier own back yards are reminding us that we live in a small country. This backyard belongs to all of us.”

  51. Paul says:

    High speed rail is a lot less damaging and quieter than a motorway. Railways were strongly opposed in 19th century. Thank goodness they were pushed through.

  52. Micahel Leo KING says:

    For this campaign I am delighted to accept the title NIMBY. There has been far too much world-wide destruction of forests which I believe has contributed the effects of Global Warming without enough condemnation of this calamitous practice.

    • David says:

      NIMBY is a dangerous pejorative which could have us labelled selfish, crazy extremists rather than rational caring people. Playing to the hand of the opposition. I am against it!

  53. John Handley says:

    Whilst I agree with the sentiments of your comments; it is really not possible to change the negative inferences of a word or phrase just because we think it should be so. Far better to stop kidding ourselves that we can change the co notations of NIBYism and use the strength of our argument to convince people that we don’t defend narrow minded prejudices; but have a serious case which should be heard.

  54. Gill Douglas says:

    People have a right to care about their environment and if this manifests in NIMBYism, then so be it. Faster rail times should not be that important. The money could be better used to improve existing rail services.
    There is something wrong with the way we are governed when the views of the general public are ignored time and again.

    • Geoff says:

      HS2. = Another ‘Concorde’ ?

      • Dr V Hill says:

        I think the money would be better spent transporting goods and take off our roads all the huge juggernaughts polluting our country!

        • Clive Anthony Ramsey says:

          The problem with railways is the “Loadings”. They make best sense where big loads make repeated journeys between say a port and a coal fired power station. Each time tehre is a transfer between train lines of tracks there is extra cost and possible delay. Furthermore customers are restricted to timetables. The UK does not easily have space for extra tracks for the slower moving freight trains. However it seesm tehre is always space and funding available for road projects.

  55. Lou Johnson says:

    It depends what’s in your back yard doesn’t it? As a representative of The Blunsdon Action Group (check out Facebook) I found myself saying that I was a NIMBY on Wiltshire Radio yesterday! This was in relationship to a Swindon Borough Council Local Plan 2026 pre-submission development in my village and at the end of my garden within a stunning valley full of biodiversty! I felt quite traumatised after admitting to being a NIMBY – but is it wrong to say it out loud if the area concerned is worth protecting? Beautiful landscapes of England, flora & fauna can’t speak out for themselves so it’s up to us, their NEIGHBOURS to shout out for them – if like me, this is happening in your back yard and you think it’s wrong, then say YES I am a NIMBY! Here’s to NIMBY’s United! I might start another Facebook page to embrace the term and set the country straight – How about it?
    Check out to hear the radio interview, it starts 1:19:30 so have a listen and see if you agree with my thoughts, I admit to being a NIMBY it at about 1:23:25. Still traumatised….

  56. Maureen Hart says:

    Many years ago we lived in a small village surrounded by fields with hedgerows with a forest nearby. Then a ‘London Overspill Estate’ was built, meant to be on just a few fields but took several more with flats built against our back fence. We tried to fight this from the start but as with HS2 could not stand up against Government. We made the best of it for a while but in the end had no privacy left with the flats occupants overlooking us every day. We moved to the coast thinking life would be better but now the flood plains are being built on with our protests again being ignored. By ‘our’ i do not mean a personal protest but the whole towns.
    This grabbing of every piece of land is said to be ‘for the greater good’. The same argument used for HS2! When we have decimated every inch of this country & we have no fresh air, water etc what will whichever party is in power then blame for this?
    Nimby does not adequately describe what we are fighting for or describe us but it is a term readily used by those who cannot see what we are trying tell them.
    We must continue this fight at every level whoever we are, wherever we live.
    Fight on everyone who cares!!

  57. Elaine Rimron says:

    I am a NIMBY and proud of it because it means we are standing up for the preservation of our country which is being routinely ruined by a succession of governments. Our woodlands are vital – not only for their beauty but essential to life. If we continue to concrete over our countryside – and there seems to be very little protection for even greenbelt these days – cut down our woodlands, build on floodplains and build pointless high speed railways that will destroy not only areas of beauty but peoples’ homes and livelihoods just to enable more people get to London even more quickly (and this HS2 will only benefit London), then we will live in a country without beauty, wildlife, farming communities etc and our way of life will be severel compromised. I despair at the thinking of those running our country. We can’t trust anyone in power to keep promises or to protect the things that really matter. I am sick of being accused of being a Nimby,a racist, an homophobe etc because I happen to have stong opinions about how issues like the countryside, immigration, same-sex marriage will affect the future of this country. How dare people abuse the likes of me bacause I don’t agree with their opinions. We must continue to stand up for the things we passionately believe in.

  58. Tom Bradberry says:

    Surely the environment that you are most qualified to have concern about is your local one. Completely agree with the article. It’s time we reclaimed our ownership of our country from the insane pursuit of economic growth. As for Hs2 itself – utter folly. It’s as if the entire internet / web / telecoms developemt of the last 10+ years hadn’t happened. Make WiFi available on existing routes an upgrade the rolling stock .

  59. Neil Williamson says:

    I agree that in this instance and in other grand projects where the government wants to discredit valid local opposition, labelling local campaigners as ‘Nimby’s is simply a convenient and dishonest way of trying to manipulate public opinion. It is one more demonstration that the government’s supposed commitment to promoting localism is merely skin deep.

    However, we should not forget that there do exist people who oppose new development for their own selfish reasons. It is a commonplace experience in day to day town and country planning practice that people who fully accept the need for children’s play areas, youth facilities, affordable housing and the like, and who fully agree that for the good of society they must be provided somewhere, will fight tooth and nail to avoid them being located close to their own property. So the origin of the term ‘Nimby’ did reflect a real type of human behaviour.

    Seeking to reverse the current negative connotations of the word ‘Nimby’ will not succeed – they are too strongly embedded. Instead, we should champion the cause of localism, define it in our terms, and challenge the government to turn its own words into action and take it seriously.

    • Rwth Hunt says:

      I am not an expert, but have typed some very interesting stuff for other people about structuring housing estates, mixing accommodation to avoid ghettoes and providing amenities for them.

      It seems to me that a lot of the arguments in favour of developing ancient woodland are based on closed concepts. “This HST2 is necessary. It will provide jobs” etc. There are no attempts to show that the proposed route is better than the existing route, only that the new line is technologically superior. It could be, but the jobs it brings will be counterbalanced by the jobs that are lost. If your own MP is in favour, what are you supposed to do, – go and kick her in the shins? Obviously not.

      I think ancient woodland is much more precious than the rulers of our country because they did not bother to set up a government that reflected the votes, but did a carve up that would give them more power. On the other hand, the NIMBYS who live near me, I know and trust because I have lived there for well over 30 years, and know their feelings. I know who agrees with me and who does not. and which issues we share.

  60. Graham Harris says:

    I just do not see that the time saving projected on HS2 between Birmingham and London justifies the cost, destruction and upheaval. If any one has been on the Maglev between Shanghai and the Airport you will know that it may be very fast but only very few can afford to use it.

  61. Geoff Naylor says:

    At the heart of the matter is land ownership. Since William the Conqueror parcelled out to his Barons our homeland in return for their fealty, property rights have been uppermost in English Common Law and in the hands of a small powerful elite, including the Monachy and the Duchy of Cornwall. What is needed is a seismic shift of government policy and lawmaking to reverse the inherited situation of centuries.

  62. Anthony Bird says:

    I do not care if anybody wishes to call me a NIMBY, I have been called a lot worse, let us keep up the effort to protect the environment particularly when the reasons for destroying are so poorly thought through!

  63. Susan McNeil says:

    I totally agree that people should be the guardians of their own area – if one doesn’t care about where one lives who else will?. In general, perpetrators of projects which cause destruction & disruption tend not to do it to their own back yards. I am proud of defending my neighbourhood from unnecessary destruction. It is not a case of “Not in MY backyard, go put it in someone else’s” which is the NIMBY implication – it is a question of fighting ill-judged projects that do not benefit the community as a whole.

  64. Alison Sloan says:

    ‘Not in my back yard, not in anyone’s back yard’

  65. Peter Vince says:

    I think the term NIMBY is too strongly associated with a selfish perspective to be seen as a positive label. I heard a great alternative a while back, and I can’t see it in the comments above or on wikipedia: Not On Planet Earth – NOPE – i.e. this is simply not a good idea.
    The ‘rational’ argument for HS2 is that it will boost the economy, and I believe that is true for many infrastructure projects. I’m glad we built the chunnel – rail is a pretty good form of transport and the chunnel links our network to the rest of the continent. Bullet trains make sense in Japan because they make rail an attractive alternative to air for long distance journeys.
    Investing the money that has been estimated for HS2 (let alone the money that it would actually end up costing) across our existing rail network would have significant benefits for huge numbers of people, and might even make more people see rail as an attractive form of transport.
    But the most that we can hope to gain from HS2 is that some people who already travel by train between London and Manchester will reach their destination a little bit sooner (a novelty which will quickly wear off) and a very small number of those who fly between those cities might be tempted to try the train instead, perhaps even more than once.
    HS2 is a vanity project. It’s like city dwellers driving monster four-by-fours because they like the look and feel of power, and want to emulate the few who actually have huge estates with muddy tracks. It is a symptom of the current political climate, in that it would provide limited gratification to a few, at the expense of the long term good of many.
    It would be a very good thing if the project were scrapped, and the money put to better use.

  66. Peter Simon says:

    I do know from my own experience that when you are a NIMBY nothing matters as much as the campaign you strain every sinew to win. Quite justifiably. So if you oppose A 3RD Runway at Heathrow (destructive scheme) you might support HS2 (another hideously destructive scheme). And I often see on the Stop HS2 web site people arguing for more roadbuilding rather than HS2 in their desperation to stop the HS2 Madness. I do think that NIMBYISM (which I concede I have not been free from has its positives as you point out. . However I think the Woodland Trust and NGOs generally need to lead beyond NIMBYISM and coordinate all the various campaigns against development that is too costly in environmental terms. The needs of the growing population and the pressures of a global economy are factors, and there needs to be a mature and grown up response to these on the part of NGOs, even to a point of endorsing them or calling for a more limited population and a more isolationist self sufficient Britain. I am nearly 60 now, have masses of campaign experience but am tired of campaigning, in a somewhat wasteful childlike way, time is too short and too much precious landscape is at stake. Unless eco campaigners preserving the positives from Nimbyism Grow Up beyond nimbyism and UNITE with a common policy on environmental protection, on growth, and a sustainable UK global economic future I see nearly all these splendid campaigns as doomed. And that is no disrespect to any of them, I am opposed as I said to HS2 (DEEPLY) 3RD Runaway, and road schemes (particularly in the Green Belt and National Parks around Manchester where I live) I am NOT disprespecting Nimbyism, but it is time to go beyond Nimbyism, and only NGOs can lead the way in that by UNIFYING the campaigns in a national strategy that is more than reactive.

  67. Brian Oakford says:

    Im Proud to be called a Nimby. But in my case it does not just refer to my own local patch. Lets look after our beautiful countryside as prioity number one, HS2 IS MADNESS

  68. Anthony says:

    I know from first hand experience what misery is caused by development in my back yard, and that now I look out onto the side of a house instead of the small coppice that once stood there, however at present there are still two trees remaining with T.P.O,S on them (for now)
    NIMBY,S may not stop the changes but they can create a compromise and I would give 100% to this cause, please remember “most people only notice a tree when it is gone”

  69. EWB Borstal says:

    NIMBYism is a term used by people who want to profit at other people’s expense.

  70. Mike Barnes says:

    Let’s not wrap a fundamental dispute of the cost/benefit of HS2 (which I’m not in favour of) with rationalisation of being a NIMBY. Wikipedia says that “NIMBY” is: “…a pejorative characterization of opposition by residents to a proposal for a new development because it is close to them, often with the connotation that such residents believe that the developments are needed in society but should be further away.” That’s how I would use the word too. It’s not opposition to a development because it’s a rubbish idea, it’s opposition to a development being in your own back yard – wishing it, instead, to be in someone else’s backyard. Out of sight out of mind, in other words, though that’s not a good slogan for environmental campaigners.

    There’s nothing wrong with objecting to developments which affect you, as an individual, or your family or friends – whilst not actively objecting to developments which affect someone else. But let’s not dress it up as being anything other than a protection of your own interests. Whereas environmental concern is not localised – HS2 is a mess because it will not deliver enough benefit against the financial cost, and environmentally will destroy areas of land which simply don’t need to be destroyed. But we do need to invest in railways, and if the same volume of land required for HS2 were developed for useful country-wide rail schemes then, so long as environmental impact was minimised, I would support that as a good use of money and a fair environmental trade off.

    Someone who objects to a development *because it is wrong*, rather than because of where it is, is *not* a NIMBY – regardless of whether others use the term as an insult against them or not.

  71. Claire says:

    This is an interesting one for me. I have never accepted the term NIMBY as used as an insult by developers and politicians and I am uncomfortable with the idea of embracing it, as it is clearly an insult. I cringe when I hear people say “I am not a nimby, but…. because the term is just an abusive name to make people feel uncomfortable or guilty about objecting to developments that will have an unpleasant impact on them.” Actually, it is bullying.

    I can see what the WT is trying to do though and although I think there is some merit in it, the term to me has become so synonymous with insult, that I could never refer to myself as one.

    I would prefer, as Dave Sanderson says above, create a new name that encapsulates a desire to care about the countryside and environment. I like his suggestion of localist (even though the word ‘localism’ means nothing!

    best wishes
    Claire Wright
    Independent East Devon District Councillor

  72. Dave Sanderson says:

    NIMBY is protecting your own interests, at the level of the individual or family. Localism is protecting or promoting interests at the level of the community. The first is selfish, the second isn’t. NIMBYs want to protect their own land, their property value, their view. Localists work with others to protect or enhance common assets.

    So just don’t fall into the politicians’ or medias’ trap and use the word NIMBY; use Localist instead.

    Dave Sanderson

  73. Edith Crowther says:

    In Bill Bryson’s collection of essays by different people, called “Icons Of England”, Zak Goldsmith celebrates “Nimbyism” as something typically English, with a long history. He is right – we would not have many of our city parks, heaths and gardens without it, never mind the Green Belt and other nature reserves. Those battles were fought in the 19th century, more were fought in the 20th, and the 21st century is even more of a threat to the natural world, with many species now crashing and hardy invader species taking over.

    Here is a review from the Telegraph, a bit tentative about Zac G’s input, but the Telegraph then swept as a whole into the Hands Off Our Land campaign, so it is leading the field these days so far as the mainstream media are concerned (of course The Ecologist is still the “bible” for activists and armchair supporters).

    NIMBYism should be compulsory – and indeed should become NIABYism – Not In Anybody’s Back Yard. We must try and defend not only our own remants of the living world, but – if we have the time – those in other parts of the country. In fact this is duty in International Law – the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity says at Article 8(j) that local people must be involved in the battle to save species. The UK has signed the Convention – most countries have.

    • Mike King says:

      OK, so if we ALL adopt NIABYism, just where do you think new housing development, landfill sites, bio incinerators, biomass power generators, nuclear plants and so on should go – if not in anyone’s proverbial back yard? As for bio diversity protection, I’m with you on that. Millions of worms and other creatures have been killed, and had THEIR habitats destroyed providing executive homes with swimming pools and double garages and golf Club Houses, all over our once green and pleasant land. Disgraceful, they should be pulled down immediately and the land restored! The residents can go and live in Romania.

      • David says:

        Now thats NIMBYism on an international scale! I hear Romania has some pristine environments, not to mention Transylvania!

  74. chivnick says:

    Please let’s not try to reframe the term NIMBY into anything other than a pejorative term. They are people who are happy to accept all the benefits of a modern, globalised, growing economy but seem to think all the downsides should belong to someone else. They don’t say ‘not at all’ to landfill sites, incinerators, roads and all the other modern infrastructure, they just say, ‘not near me’. This isn’t a good thing and shouldn’t be celebrated.

    Stop filling up headspace with guff like this and just go plant some trees! That’s why I joined the Woodland Trust.

    • Kaye Brennan says:

      Ah chivnick, it’s sadly true that the UK is one of the least wooded countries in Europe – and yet is planting those trees and creating the woodland which we desperately need enough.. without also striving for proper protection for them, and without ensuring true value and recognition for what they bring us all as a society and to our world? Here’s more about the three different but interconnected things we work to achieve, with the help of you and all our members:

    • David says:

      Hear hear, but I fear we are lone voices in cacophony of Nimbyism!

    • Mike King says:

      Spot on, chivnick! There’s plenty of room around Highgrove House for new development to accommodate the anticipated influx of needy Romanians and I expect the residents would enjoy learning their language and customs. Also plenty of room for a new landfill site, which I’m sure the PoW would appreciate as a source of compost and burnable methane gas! Both could be surrounded by masking cordons of trees, of course.

  75. oyster_catcher says:

    I agree. I find economic justification to destroy the environment extremely distasteful. A friend of mine coined a much better replacement acronym, while working to protect our local area around Cheltenham through “Save The Countryside”. It was Looking After of My Back Yard (LAMBY).

  76. alan rayner says:

    This whole discussion, while being very worthy, ignores the basis of our present society’s ills. These are all rooted in our having allowed ourselves into having been seduced into believing we must, and deserve to have every aspect of our material “wants” satisfied. This in turn stems from our failure to understand that our entire society is “underpinned” by a misplaced “faith” in our financial institutions, their rationale, and their support by our political parties. Until we grasp the nettle of radical banking reform we shall get nowhere. Do look at Positive for a fundamentally common sense explanation of the underlying reason why every true campaign like ours has to struggle against this situation to achieve basic and beneficial change.

    • Mike King says:

      I think that actually it all stems from the global economic capitalist system which happily tolerates huge inequalities and which is based on the flawed foundation of never ending economic growth! Bearing in mind that global resources are finite, we really need a new economic model and a lot more global democracy with it. Personally, I’m basically poor, and don’t worry about money too much. It’s all just bits of paper and pieces of metal. I would rather have a lovely, tasty, meal than a bag of yellow, pliant metal we call “gold”!

  77. Rwth Hunt says:

    I always say I’m a NIMBY. Of course I am. If I don’t care about my neighbourhood, why should anyone else. I say that loudly in meetings and locals know me and allow my voice to be heard. I am enraged at the HS2 route that is due to run through Crackley Wood in Warwickshire, about 30 miles from me. These people who think they can clear ancient woodland away on the unfulfilled promise of planting more elsewhere are guilty of insincerity. I vote and campaign and require the community wishes to be observed.

    The bigger picture is of the inside of someone’s back pocket sometimes. If the Government can afford that much money all of a sudden, it can spend it on the existing network improving and upgrading. For at least 10 years, all journeys to the North via Birmingham have been re-routed via Rugby on Sundays to allow repairs to be done. There are already 2 lines one of which has been disabled by putting a section (Lapworth) out of action. If they can afford to replace the metal, they can put HS2 there, then when it is up and running, they can pull up the other line and upgrade that if they think it’s worth it, but Local lines and signalling need repair and replacement so that the whole network can be revitalised. People who can’t entertain themselves for the length of the present journey are pathetic and don’t deserve to hold the positions they do.

    Railway people of my acquaintance all agree that the network is in greater need than a couple of new lines, and since I pay for Government through my very small portion of tax, I require that Government to do as I wish..

  78. I count myself as more of an INBY – as in I AM CONCERNED, with what happens in my own back yard.
    I am equally concerned about what happens elsewhere in the countryside (other people’s back yards).
    I am concerned about what happens in my city (Southampton).
    I am concerned about what happens in other cities too, as this affects me and others.
    I am concerned about what happens in other countries.
    I am concerned about what happens in the sea.
    I am concerned about what happens in the atmosphere.
    I am concerned about what happens in space
    I am concerned.
    We live in a system; damaging or changing any part of it has a consequence. We might not notice it straight away, but this does not mean that it is not or will not be significant later on.
    the Urbane Forager

  79. Penny Benzie says:

    I do not think that the Woodland Trust should support NIMBY. There are far more important issues for you to deal with and certainly from my point of view it damages your credibility. I am disappointed that you think this is a worthy cause to spend funds on

    • Kaye Brennan says:

      Hi Penny. Less of a campaign, more of a discussion point & judging by the fantastic and dynamic thoughts we are seeing here – it’s ripe for discussion! Protecting the UK’s woodland from development is a core aim of our charity but so many times our campaigners get labels attached to them which can put them off going further or beat them back – like NIMBY. Understanding how we as a campaigning community feel about that is important when we need to defend our actions for woods and trees, from so much. So please be assured, this is not a ‘campaign’ or investment of funds, it’s giving you a voice around tackling campaigning challenges we all face together. Thanks for your comment – it is very welcome.

    • David says:

      Thanks for a all to rare sane comment!

    • Mike King says:

      Here here Penny! I think that the WT is going to lose more than it gains with this proposed and rather childish approach!

  80. Denise O'Brien says:

    The problem with the ‘good of the country’ argument is something only NIMBYs seem to appreciate – that once a development (of any sort) is done, that environment is gone forever. That realisation makes NIMBYs not only angry but very sad too, because it means future generations won’t be able to enjoy the same beautiful countryside we can today. Of course we need to upgrade our transport systems and build new housing, but the real problem is this is a tiny island with just too many of us living in it. Perhaps the Government would do better to look at the longer term picture and the ways in which we might cut our population.

  81. Diane says:

    I’m a NIMBY and proud of it, I live in an Area of Outstanding Beauty and wish it to remain so. As for HS2, if I’m in London and want to get to Birmingham quicker I simply catch an earlier train – simple, swathes of countryside and £30 billion saved.


    • Mike King says:

      Tut Tut, lowering the so far excellent standard of debate! If the Woodland Trust wants such boorish, uncaring supporters, I’m out! Anyway, how do you know that the people you are referring to do not have married parents?

      • David says:

        Hear Hear! Me too! No way do I want the NIMBY epithet. Totally debases the value of the campaign.

  83. John Scrivens says:

    I have been labelled a Nimby in the past, almost always by people who stand to profit financially from a development but who have no other link to the area. I prefer to think of myself as a NIABY – not in anyone’s back yard.

  84. J Dards says:

    NIMBY is perjorative because it implies that something horrible is fine in somebody else’s back yard, just not in MINE. We need another term for people who are fighting a national cause locally. There are people all over the country who don’t want to see our heritage destroyed by schemes of doubtful benefit, but who rely on the campaigns of those most directly affected who are most motivated to protest.

  85. Lindy says:

    I’ve never heard the word nimby before!! However, adopting a word and campaigning with it forcing it into the coommon language is a very good idea, as long as one remembers the bigger picture!! Local people are experts in local issues. I know newt colonies, badger sets, I know the woodpecker, red kite curlew nests, I have relationships with individual trees and woodlands locally….only because I’m local. When I found that someone had dumped in our little woodland I was able to get it removed because I’m local and I care!! So I am a Nimby, not a tree hugging hippy!!

    • David says:

      No you are not. You are a caring individual prepared to take action. A NIMBY is an insular, selfish person, someone who doesn’t really care as long as its not in their ‘back yard’ ie someone elses is OK – do we really want that label? I don’t think so!

  86. Andrew Darke says:

    I fully agree that Nimbyism is an important part of respect for the environment. The point is that everything is in all our backyards – that is why the utmost care is needed as to what we place in the backyard.

  87. Rivenrod says:

    It seems to me, the reference NIMBY is used as a weapon by planners, politicians and their ilk to make our once green and pleasant land equally hideous everywhere. One lunatic development on a flood plain or pointless infrastructure project is absolutely fine just so long as everyone suffers.

    It’s a classic example of politicians percieving a none existant problem, deploying the wrong solutions whilst expecting an impossible outcome.

    I am in total agreement with you Mike and shall spread the word as far as I am able.


  88. john stokes says:

    As a metal detectorist, and not to forget a responsible one, who carws greatly about conservation, not only for us, but for those who follow. Now, if anyone cares to call my in NIMBY, bring it on I AM A NIMBY.
    Congratulations on thinking the way forward.

    • David says:

      With your attitude we would have no railways, no roads, no airplanes, and nothing for you to find with your metal detector – and no I don’t believe you are responsible, finding artefacts is for the professionals. You don’t have to be against all progress to care deeply about our countryside and environment. We need Nationwide high speed trains to compete in this world and not just to Birmingham. That doesn’t mean you cannot campaign for the best solution. NIMBYs are selfish, insular people who don’t give a damn about the general well being.

  89. David says:

    I disagree entirely. Where ancient woodlands or similar are under threat from speculators, builders, profiteers I can support that, but I cannot and will not support opposition to progress upon essential infrastructure projects such as Heathrow and HS2 but not Boris Island which I deem unnecessary. Yes, influence them to minimise damage, but no to opposition just because you would rather it were somewhere else – that is what NIMBYism is, not what you describe and not what you have hitherto been advocating. You are in danger of crossing a line here from well founded and well meaning opposition and effective influence to irrelevant Luddite extremism. Don’t suppose many will agree, but it does need careful thought.

    • Mike King says:

      I agree with you David. It’s OK to spark a debate, but not to cross the line – as you describe. The WT could lose all credibiliy and a lot of funding.

  90. Mike King says:

    Hold on a minute, I may be a member of the Woodland Trust and a lover of woods, trees and countryside for 3/4 of a century, but this is not the whole story by any means and the original blogger and all the above followers are taking a very narrow view. My town is the only town of it’s size in the country not connected to the rail network and we would like it to be. to relieve road congestion. The demand has been made to re-open the 2.5 miles of track for 30 years. During that time, well over a million has been spent on repeated consultancies and the works cost has risen from £7.5 Million to now over £45 Million. The promised re-opening has now been put back to at least 2017! The repeated delay has been due to lack of funding, “We simply cannot afford it”. Yet suddenly, we can find billions to build the HST2 project (which will end up double the estimate at least) and we are quite likely to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow as well. Where is all that funding coming from?? So I am on the side of the protesters – but for an additional reason – the money cannot be spared it is desperately needed to maintain and improve the existing rail network which may shortly be strategically necessary for the efficient and rapid movement of people and freight . Also, objections to new lines were just as outspoken when the Victorians built our railway system. But many who moan today, have at some stage used railways, airports and motorways that were other peoples NIMBY protest! Hypercritical, or what?

    We could have taken that approach. Our town has grown a 10k adult population in ten years so you can imagine the relatively sudden influx of newcomers, some of foreign tongues, and cars and all the building works, sewer, water, gas and electric reconstruction and all the noise of digging piling and building that we have had .. and that we still have, they haven’t finished with use yet! Now, another large supermarket is coming, more ancient “scrub” trees and wildlife habitat gone. Also, because of plans to uprate the power distribution cables of the national grid from a new nuclear power station 45 miles South of us, more uproar over the cabling plans and routing.

    But we are not experiencing anything at all unusual. Towns, villages and cities all over are struggling to increase their accommodation capacity for two important reasons. Firstly the influx of millions of incomers since the 1990’s and secondly, the huge swing toward single occupancy accommodation. Most aspire to a house with more than one bedroom, a garage and at least, a small garden. Indeed, some own Mansions and huge tracts of our national countryside, many more own two or more homes with gardens, the second often only partially used – yet thousands are homeless! Thankfully, many millions of our fellow citizens have agreed to live in high rise blocks of apartments in cities or suburbs. Because if they were all to demand the home and garden utopia – you could kiss goodbye to huge amounts of countryside! Think about it, if you have a house and garden – you are very fortunate indeed and if you live in or near a nice little village, or among countryside with a view, you are in the diamond standard. So count your blessings straight away in these crowded islands!

    We did not want our nice village invaded over 35 years by 20,000 new inhabitants and all their cars and vans, all the new children, the new teenagers and the inevitable extra problems and demands. But in truth, are they so different in their ideals and desires? Have not all of us at some stage had similar aims to that of all our newcomers? Such development means new water and gas mains too, as well as major restructuring of power supplies. So somebody, somewhere is going to have to be just as inconvenienced as some of us have been. Of course we must do all we can to protect our woodlands and countryside and to stop unnecessary and wasteful public expenditure. But those of us who are lucky enough to have a nice home and garden (or even more!) should learn to be a little more tolerant and thoughtful of the national infrastructure and accommodation needs.

    • Rwth Hunt says:

      There are so many ‘projects’ that are brought in to serve the public, but they don’t actually fulfil their earlier promise. What’s the point of all these hurried infrastructure projects if they don’t do what they set out to do. It is all so disorganised, with each project having to justify itself. If the region as a whole looked at what was needed, and all the regions agreed on the national need, with a view to supporting networks locally, then looked at what they could afford to do with the money available reasonable people would agree.

      For 50 years, successive Government has been in the grip of interests wanting nuclear power, and dragging their feet, and maybe one or two are necessary, but an overall generating, building and disposal strategy has been sadly lacking. In the end I bit the bullet to have both Solar generating panels and a solar water heater on my roof. I thought and still do, that heating the water that goes through my central heating would halve the cost. That power I didn’t use wouldn’t have to travel so far that it would disappear into the grid and thence into the outside air, or warm the bottoms of little birds assembling to leave the country.

      A local strategy that fits into the whole is totally missing and enraging the NIMBYs for years. They call it an overall strategy, but it is short sighted and blinkered by business interests.

  91. Dinsdale Purley says:

    Nimbyism is supporting a policy; but objecting to suffering the consequences. I want the street lit; but I don’t want the light outside my house. Nimbyism is indefensible. Not supporting a policy and not wanting its consequences is not nimbyism and is normal, defensible and clearly legitimate. Let’s just use the terms accurately and put people straight. Adopting the term ‘appropriate nimbyism’ would perpetuate misuse of the term and cloud matters further.

    • Reece Fowler says:

      Quite right. There is a huge difference between nimbyism and genuine opposition to something.

      The word “nimby” is often misused. It’s often used to dismiss legitimate arguments without actually presenting any counterarguments.

  92. Chuck says:

    I dislike NIMBYism. It is the height of selfishness and should never be considered a virtue. There is such a thing as the greater good, and failure to acknowledge that good hinders co-operation and condemns us to isolation from one another. One must always ask, on balance of benefit, is this project necessary, and if it must run through someone’s backyard, is mine the point of least impact? Sometimes one must take a hit for the team. If, on the other hand, the argument is Not In ANYONE’s Backyard, one’s stance ceases to be NIMBYism.

    For example, a village I used to live in ended up with electricity pylons carved through our woodland because the NIMBYs of a neighbouring village where they were proposed to go (to avoid environmental impact) successfully argued that their presence would endanger human health (and damage the property prices) if they were so close to the urban environment. Valid points perhaps, but the power lines were necessary and the environment bore the cost rather than the neighbourhood. Some in my village were bitter, I was not. I believe that we need electricity, and ours was the smaller urban community and all we lost was a lot of trees. Better that than make a new Leukaemia zone. If the residents had acted equally NIMBYly, swathes of nearby towns would be without an adequate electricity supply. I argue that this would have been a worse scenario.

    Also, “The inconsequential time saving of a London or Leeds business man (half an hour during which they probably just have another frothy latte and cinnamon whirl)”
    I must disagree with this statement. It buys into the current propaganda for the HS2 line, which is brutally flawed. The line is not needed to save a half hour of journey time – half an hour isn’t much. A lot of business users can work in transit if necessary and wi-fi is usually available. However, it is needed because the current East Coast Mainline is at capacity. Anyone who has recently stood on the Leeds platform for the Kings Cross train on peak times knows that another lane is almost inevitable. I would ask anyone who is considering opposing the HS2 line outright to make this journey before making their decision. It is peculiar in my opinion that the line is being sold on its speed rather than its congestion-easing benefits.

  93. G.N.Westmore says:

    I think there are two types of NIMBYs. Type 1 : “We don’t want those poor people’s houses near us” Type 2 “What use is pasture and woodland ? We can make more money out of buildings and fast railway tracks” BOTH ARE CONTEMPTIBLE !!
    They have a common bond with hospital authorities who speak of “bedblockers” These are patients who the hospitals have failed to cure and in my wife’s case they had the audacity to suggest that since she was proving to have a stubborn infection the best answer was to withdraw treatment and wait for her to die. I am horrified at the state which Britain has sunk to. Was this what we fought for all those times over the centuries? How can these bland politicians sleep at nights in their beds, have they no consciences?
    G.N.Westmore (

  94. beetleypete says:

    There has to be another (hidden) agenda for this pointless, and unnecessary railway. The stuff about journey times is just laughable. Does anybody know what is really going on? Good campaign.

  95. Mary Walsh says:

    At the present time my village is fighting against huge developments on the Green Belt in Central Bedfordshire. We are being offered a country park on a yet to be covered rubbish dump in exchange and another beside a sewage works. Half the population – probably more – do not know anything about these plans as kept very low key. We are told we must take part in the planning process and create local plans. Local plans only arrange the colours of the front doors and whether we want the houses facing one way or another – they do not make any difference to the Planning Strategies and whether these things get built or not. We are constantly being accused of being NIMBYs because we don’t want to see the very beautiful countryside here destroyed and we want to watch the Forest of Marston Vale grow and reach its full potential to replace ancient woodlands destroyed in this area – not be overshadowed by a huge rubbish incinerator. These things are not there just for us, but we are the guardians lucky enough to live here and must work to preserve them for the benefit of generations. Localism means nothing at all and should be rejected in favour of real and national debate and input into each and every attempt to destroy the countryside, our forests and our wildlife for short term economic gain. If buildings and faster trains could get us out of recession, and we surrendered the countryside and forests to this dogma, would we be thanking them for making us do that and would future generations, going into the next recession, look back with understanding that we didn’t want to be called NIMBYs? Sticks and stones – proud to be a NIMBY.

    • Robin says:

      Unfortunately we No Longer live in a ”Democracy” Grandchildren,next generation will probably Never see Woods,Forests,Meadows,Leighs,Greens,…”Corporate Greed Fascism” rule whether Housing Estates,Ordinary people having ‘Their” State pensions stolen by Inflation&Quantative easing £375bn so far.Bankers and Privatised utilities bosses ridiculous Pay £800,000+ whilst Most have Wages,Salary rozen for past 5 years’.

  96. Eljay says:

    Sorry – can’t help thinking that NIMBY-ism lives on the same page as hypocrisy, when we don’t mind something blighting someone else’s life as long as it doesn’t affect our own?

  97. Mike says:

    If you accept that Cameron is a “bona fide” NIMBY, with good intentions, then your argument is lost/ He cant see the woods for the wealth.

  98. rantingron says:

    NIMBY is a politically correct word: the labelling of (politically) weak individuals by powerful groups in an attempt to silence them. Of course, when the powerful groups engage in the behaviour themselves, it’s perfectly acceptable and a quite different term is used.

    People who care for the environment have a more positive, longer-term view than the “make a quick buck now, forget about the future” brigade and know that whether they’re called nimbys or planetary saviours doesn’t make any difference: it’s intentions, actions and outcomes which count.

    Yes, get the t-shirts printed: “NIMBY and PROUD”!

  99. LDM says:

    My little wood in Cambridgeshire, the least wooded county in the country, is constantly under threat from the A14. I have planted it and cared for it over 18 years, seeing wonderful wildlife move in. They say they will pay me the going rate for any land compulsary purchased. They do not seem to understand that that is not the point! Yes I am a NIMBY all right. I feel for everyone who cares for their local countryside, it is no longer a pleasure, more a constant battle.

    • Kaye Brennan says:

      Sad to read LDM, Suffolk is lovely part of the world but then as a native I’m biased! and I always like the drive past Huntingdon and Cambridge A14 best on my journey back to East Anglia. Sorry to hear about the threat you’re facing – the Thetford-Norwich A11 upgrade nearby has meant the loss of many trees as you’ll probably have seen, the destruction just looks awful

  100. Jill MorsUNR says:

    NIMBYs are just people who don’t want anything that might benefit someone other than themselves to affect them. It’s nothing to do with the issue above.

  101. mike riddall says:

    trees r us

  102. Robin Hull says:

    ‘Nimby’ = Good
    ‘Stakeholder’ = Bad
    Sorry, I seem to have got this the wrong way round.

    What I want to say is that a pejorative term like ‘Nimby’, (Really Bad Term), cannot, arguably, be turned on its head; we are all actually ‘Stakeholders’, (good term), defending what we see as our reasonable concerns. Don’t let them – the developers – steal the agenda.

    Our British system is adversarial in many circumstances besides the obvious example of the court room drama. In the planning system I am expected to have a view if I am closely associated with a planning application such that it that might impact on my home. I am legitimised by the state to speak on my own behalf. If my neighbour trespasses on my land and I do not defend it no judge will rescue me from failing to look after my interests. How is it that my voice or yours can be proposed as morally illegitimate through the use of a pejorative term like Nimby? In such a planning instance, my rights to be consulted are enshrined in the planning system. I am thought of by the system as a legitimate voice. How is it that this right has been subverted in the emotive language of conflict generated by the developer’s interest to create HS2?

    I resist taking on the term ‘Nimby’ and trying to re-cast it as a good term. I don’t think that is realistic. The issue should be fought on the basis that I have a reasonable and legal right to protect what is mine – I am a stakeholder here, with rights – and I am not wishing this project on someone else to protect my own little patch.

    The greater good is a ploy of totalitarianism and capitalism and socialism alike. There is no difference between them. If we don’t have enough water and a reservoir is the ONLY answer, I can see the argument. But a local environment is also a national environment and a national asset. It is not, and clearly so in this case of HS2, Nimbyism to oppose the project but rational, seen on a national scale, and is being opposed on behalf of the nation. The case is not made, as in the reservoir instance, because there are many more issues that make the decision very far from clear cut.

    To propose ‘Nimbyism’ as a credibly ‘good’ moniker for this resistance is, I sense, just the parochial attitude the government would like for furthering its ambitions. Parochial is exactly what the term Nimby is meant to imply and that mud sticks and I think will continue to stick. I think it is the wrong strategy to attempt to re-define ‘Nimby’. Find a different word. And I may be wrong, of course.

    The people who oppose the HS2 project are campaigning on behalf of the whole country. HS2 today; what and where tomorrow? The people who oppose HS2 are Stakeholders in the country as a whole seeking to preserve our nation’s environment and they have the personal interest to get off their bums and do something – the rest of us don’t, that’s the regrettable truth, and that’s why localism and the Big Society are suspect concepts.

    So the opponents of HS2 should be applauded; the rest of us benefit from their exertions. Spreading distrust of their motives is a good card to play by those who want this scheme. But next year there will be other attempts at despoliation of our countryside. Think on. Nimbys are ‘environmental champions’ and the bits the government isn’t keen on, as the argument runs, but don’t wear the Nimby moniker with pride. It’s playing into their hands.

  103. Robin says:

    Greedy Tories,Blue Labour,Fib-dems, have no appreciation of Spaces,Green or otherwise Profits&Concrete only proviso. Grandchildren will see no Glade,Meadows,Leighs,Greens,Parks

  104. John Johnstone says:

    Protection of Ancient Woodlands is a particular case, but in general we do need a modern rail system in Britain. The alternative is internal aircraft flights growing out of control, which is much worse.
    There are some other things we also need to do to minimise undesirable development. We need to get serious about controlling our population. We need to improve the quality of the economy in many parts of the UK, so that there is less development pressure on South-East England. We need to re-learn how to work locally, and consume locally produced goods (and less of them). We also need to accept that owning a second home in such a crowded country is thoroughly anti-social.
    There is everthing to be said for really caring for our local environment (including the natural environment within our cities), but it must not descend into an “Anywhere but here” approach to every proposal.

  105. Richard says:

    The cost to the health and wellbeing of those affected cannot be measured, but it will outweigh any possible benefits. Ill health affects the economy and puts a strain on the NHS.
    Similar high speed rail links in other countries have not delivered the expected benefits, and passengers continue to prefer the cheaper, slower old routes, leaving the new lines making a loss. The government has ignored this.
    As a historian I am also upset, because the HS2 line cuts across the site of the Battle of Edgcote (1469). This historically important battle is little known about by most people.

  106. ak says:

    Call what you like… A label is nothing more than identification marker it just depends on how you market the idea / notion … This stupid waste of public money on concrete and steel will destroy untold amounts of English countryside… That will be lost forever… The government should spend the
    money on hospitals / NHS or other essential public services.
    What peesss me off is these so called decision makers never live or work in the affected areas…..They have enough resources to escape… Leaving the public at large with the detritus of their decisions…Not all of us aspire to live in high density urban areas….

  107. Mike Boulton says:

    I do not see myself as a NIMBY I campaign for things that I think good for people and against those thing that I feel are bad.
    A while ago I was capaigning against a problem in our village and one person said that she wouldn’t sign my petition bacause her end of the village would not be affected.
    I see myself as a NIABBY – not in any body’s back yard. after all a nuclear accident in Japan is just as bad as one here just not so bad for me.

  108. Oh I am torn by Mike’s original argument. Caring about our back yard and doing something to protect it is valuable and important, but protecting our own self interests at the expense of others is both selfish and often counterproductive. Imagine the community that objects to a mental health facility out of fear despite the fact that 1 in 4 of that same community are likely to experience mental health problems.

    I was part of a campaign to stop a development despite feeling deeply uncomfortable with being or appearing to be a NIMBY. A five storey single block of housing was planned to provide housing marketed at temporary, often foreign workers. The plan would destroy woodland, scrubland and a local car park, there was no green space included in the plan and no amenities of any kind. The plans were ugly, would have had a direct impact on my wellbeing and a worse impact on many of my neighbours. It would have put an increased strain on local traffic, healthcare, schools etc. It would have built alongside a green corridor and removed a key breathing space for wildlife. It was a perfect storm of poor planning. The local community objected strongly and together with the council got a judicial review which we won. However, had there been a plan to build a 3 storey care home on half the planned plot with car parking and a pharmacy on site I would have found it difficult to object – even if my lovely view of urban woodland was impeded.

    I think there are a number of tests we should set ourselves when when campaigning to stop a development:

    Am I being honest?
    I think it is legitimate to argue for your own self interest (my house will reduce in value, I will be moved off my land etc) as long as you are honest that this is your motivation. However, using environmental concerns and saying we are campaigning for the greater good when we really want to protect local house prices is disingenuous.

    Not in ANYONE’S back yard – would I campaign on this issue if it was in someone else’s back yard?
    I think this is a really important test, especially for anyone who is deeply concerned with environmental and or social issues. A solid block housing development built on the other side of the country may have no effect on our lives but could seriously affect the environment or could blight the lives of a whole community. A great example of a campaign that met this test was the one to save woodlands from sale. I am sure many of us who took part in the campaign lived no where near woodland but we regarded them as essentially precious – even if we never visit one again in our lifetime.

    Have I listened to the argument FOR the development and considered the evidence.
    We all have a gut reaction to change and new developments – that is a natural reaction. But if we are going to argue from a greater good perspective (see above) there is a responsibility to have understood the argument for the development and at least to have glanced at the evidence for that case.

    Have I considered a middle way?
    This is a tricky one because our current planning systems are not very responsive to influence and negotiation rather they rely on a battle between the plan on the table or nothing. However, often there is a genuine need AND genuine well founded objections – it cannot be beyond the wit of humanity to find a middle way.

    Do I care about the land being built on all the time or just when it is threatened?
    I must admit my neighbours and I fell foul of this one. The woodland we valued so much when it was threatened was full of our rubbish – and I mean full, building rubble, white goods, a broken canoe etc. To be honest, before it was threatened at best we ignored it and at worse we abused it. If we really care about our environment we have to look after it on a day to day basis when no one is looking – not just when the bulldozer and the press arrive.

    Ok this may all sound too goody goody but I come back to my first test about honesty, there is nothing wrong with arguing that a development disadvantages me or you. We can campaign on this self interested level and should not be ashamed to do so. But if we choose the arguments about the greater good (environmental and social tests) we have a responsibility to meet the other tests above. If we don’t then we risk all objections being viewed in the same light – as ‘not in my back yard because I don’t like it’ arguments.

    I often feel I don’t do enough to fulfil my commitment to the environment but I am proud to be involved with Hammersmith Community Gardens Association. We do the boring, unglamorous work of looking after small pieces of land 24 hours a day 365 days a year working with a heavily populated local community to balance the needs of people and wildlife and educating local people to both care and care for that wildlife. Of course this post represents my personal views, not those of the Association.

    Well Mike, in conclusion, thank you, you made me think

  109. Caroline says:

    Localism is protecting your own enviroment from something detrimental to it by protesting against that thing; NIMBYism is protecting your enviroment without protesting the thing which threatens it because you want that thing, just not the obvious consequences. This is why NIMBYism is always selfish whereas localism need not be

  110. Alan Pearman says:

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion but the problem is that if something like HS2 does not go through a particular route it will go though another. The latter might not have the financial or political clout and have to put it with having the railway through their locality.
    A group of residents living on a street near my home has had that street blocked off because they did not want the traffic going past their homes. The traffic now goes up a nearby residential street, a narrow road and most unsuitable for lots of traffic, They were not consulted, no political clout – the other end of NIMBYism.

  111. Gerry Leyman says:

    Well it looks like I am in a minority. The objections to HS2 are not the ones to use when talking of NIMBY’s. I’m a huge supporter of our woodlands especially the ancient ones. However we are now in the 21st. Century and we need modern rail links. The existing ones are full to capacity and we need high speed rail to compete with air travel and cut our CO2 emission. Most people support our railways which were built in Victorian times and often the economic case for building them was far from good. Many railway companies and builders went bankrupt but we now know that in the end they have been a huge benefit to our country. I am sure looking back HS2 will be the same in 50 or 100 years time.

    The country side around the railway will heal, just like it has along the routes of our first railways and motorways which are now a haven for wildlife, new woodlands will be planted and grow. I do feel sorry for those who live directly along the route and might have to move, but that is progress and it is a trait of human beings that generally in the end the good of the whole and not the individual wins out.

    The damage HS2 will cause to the Chilterns or Cotswold’s will be minor compared to that from Ash Die Back disease if it wipes out 95% of our Ash trees as has been reported.

  112. Will Swinnerton says:

    There can be nothing selfish about genuine care for the place one lives, without this there is no future for our environment! The NIMBY label has been and is sadly used to dissuade reasonable objection to change. One’s home is a place of which one may have intimate knowledge based on years of experience. The “reasoned justification” at the heart of our planning law depends on quality information on which to base decisions. It is local knowledge and concern that should be informing the decision makers to allow the best quality development. In my own “lovely backyard” (my subjective opinion) local “NIMBY” knowledge flagging up the Battlefield of Blore Heath swayed the course of a long public enquiry. This was information that should with better local engagement, have been considered in the first place!

  113. Carole says:

    I’ve been planting trees and been an ‘environmentalist’ for over 50 years. But I drive a car, use plastic products, have a fridge and watch TV. We need food, we need habitats, we need transport – we don’t need views, we want them.

    More must to be done to instill responsibility for food, waste, water and fuel use into individual households and producers alike.

    That includes promoting the planting of native species both in public places and gardens, less block paving on drives, better water course management and easier recycling opportunities.

    Why buy Dutch tomatoes (they’re watery and tasteless), French apples (Delicious ha ha), Kenyan beans or Peruvian asparagus?

    You live in a box, why do you need a lawn? You drive to work/shop/take the kids to school – do you really need a Chelsea tractor, Porsche, BMW or Audi thingy?

    In Britain, Dartmoor became uninhabitable because the trees were destroyed. Around the world, the destruction of vegetation has proved fatal to more than one civilization.

    Without food/water/dwelling places we die; without transport/communication we suffer.

    We choose.

  114. Trevor Hussey says:

    Mike Townsend is right about cost/benefit analysis. It is flawed because it involves comparing the incommensurable: say an area of ancient woodland with the time saved on a rail journey. It performs this impossibility by a slight of hand: reducing both to a monetary value – which simply begs the question. Even where similar things are being compared the best that cost/benefit analysis can do is chose between means to ends, but it cannot choose the ends themselves.
    Nimbyism is more nuanced. It can refer to the promotion of self-interest over a general good. But, as has been said, people’s regard for their local environment is admirable in itself and reasons must be given in each case why the general good is to take precedence. In the case of HS2 the case has simply not been made. The term ‘nimbyism’ is being used as a muzzle to silence rational and justifiable objections.
    Those who will get the glory of being so “progressive” and “forward looking” in promoting HS2 will be dozing in the House of Lords by the time the cost has doubled and we are having to pay a subsidy to a private company to run it, and yet more employment and enterprise has been drained from the North to the South East. I challenge the minister to go to the areas of deprivation in the North East and ask the people there ‘I have £33 billion (£33 thousand million!) to spend, how would you like me to spend it?’ And see how many reply ‘What we would realy like is for you to get our businessmen to London half an hour early’.

  115. Peter Stanton says:

    A lot of interesting views but I don’t see much sign of the real need for HS2 in releasing capacity on the conventional railway; the “Antis” only seem to talk about the high speed for Toffs angle! The high speed lines in France have decimated the environmentally unfriendly airline services and French use of cars per head is also lower than ours. Having actually worked on attempting to increase the capacity of existing rail routes I can say from painful experience it is not an effective means of increasing capacity. Imagine the environmental impact of one of the alternatives; four tracking from Rugby to Birmingham! Don’t get me wrong;; I love our countryside and its ancient woodlands but I loved the Lune Gorge and the car lobby blasted that apart with the M6. The more we can do to create public transport with a lower carbon footprint than the car and the chief polluter the light van, the better!

  116. barry luxton says:

    No one has come up with the fact that all of the houses constructed, that you live in, all the roads that you travel on, all the infratructure built within the uk is more than 5% yet less that 10% of all of the gound in the uk, so you guys who think you are being concreted in, think again. Get with it, infrastructure is not the end of the human race as we know it.

  117. David F says:

    NIMBY means Not In My Back Yard i.e. it is applied to people who agree that developments are necessary but want them out of their own immediate environment. The Woodland Trust exists to protect woodland and in particular ancient woodland. We dilute our argument if we make blanket condemnations of projects like HS2. Let’s stick to preserving ancient woodland and planting new trees to enrich the urban and rural environment (for instance alongside HS2 if it happens).

  118. Michelle says:

    So what’s wrong about NOT wanting another train track running through your back yard. I am not someone who will be affected by the HS2 directly as I live in the depths of Brum. I am still deeply upset about the HS2 plan though. I see it through the eyes of the flowers, trees, insects, bird life and mammals whose homes will be wiped out by the train track. I occasionally ride on my bike through
    Lichfield and Hints to escape Brum, it’s wonderful to get away from the concrete jungle and now that part of the countryside is due for wrecking, it’s depressing.

    Maybe the Government are hiding the fact that they know oil is going to run out are panicking about how people will commute in the future to London and up North.

    Yes I’m a greeny and a N I M B Y and am affected by the aesthetic value of things.

  119. Mel Barlow says:

    So long as the current political and industrial ethos prevails, there is little long term hope that the planet will be able to sustain the ever growing human population.

    2 issues that few people and no politicians understand.

    1) The manic hunt for economic growth serves only to swell the coffers of the already bloated fat cats. There are natural limits to economic growth which, with the present ethos will end up in some form of big bang.

    2) The approach of the day of reckoning is accelerated by the exponential growth of the human population. Without factoring in the effect of the growing human population, we’re ultimately just reordering the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    This not to decry the efforts of the WT, whose campaigns I wholeheartedly support.

  120. Mr. L. Millgate says:

    For Miss Nikki Williams, Head of Campaigning:

    I’m sure many of the Trust’s supporters are of an age that does not appreciate being addressed by their first (‘given’) names.

    L W Millgate

    • Nikki Williams says:

      Thank you Mr Millgate, we will amend your records to ensure it reflects your preference

  121. There seems to me to be the true NIMBYism, who’s practitioners seem to have the attention span of a religious zealot towards change, and a graduated scale of people from the impractical to the tolerant, to the participative about what new changes will bring. The difficulty I have is civilisation is continually evolving, and unless we find a way of going from 8Bn people to 2Bn people again, we need to be better at managing the planet’s resources.

    If HS2 did not happen, it would be replaced by heavy carbon generating air and road links, with their continual dependency on oil. But HS2 will make sure a considerable number of those flights and car journeys won’t happen, plus is ideal for nuclear and rising renewable energy. I live in Ruislip. I’m near the route. The sooner the better for me.

    There was an equally large furore over Eurostar, and (apart from the trains being diesel) who’d be without that now?

    Then is it practical to freeze a landscape? Landscapes do develop, as cities do. Demands on the landscape changes as technologies change. Where are all the Telegraph poles?

    Whilst we should minimise the effect on landscapes of our trespass, we also need to be realistic about it. For example, (and avoiding arguments over efficiency for the moment) on-shore wind farms do generate power and controversy, and live in areas of wind and natural beauty. But in 30 years they may become redundant, and be removed and the landscape restored. The cost benefit analysis needs to include the cost of removal. But also attitudes change. For example, a MORI tracker poll around 2003 uncovered that concerns over wind farms before they were installed were far higher than concerns afterwards, see questions 16a and 17a on this link:

    They liked that the farms brought heat and light to cold places.

    Where the train path goes through areas of natural beauty, tunnelling and trenches should be considered, but also, the train journey itself frequently becomes interesting if it passes interesting scenery.

    So where we can, we should work out the best ways of making the new and the old work harmoniously together, but if the new then becomes obsolete, then part of the agreement is the landscape is restored to a state prior to its arrival as best it can, and that cost is pre-funded in the set up plans.

    Going back to the notion of the faster journeys meaning business people then have more time for another latte at the other end. My argument would be that is a reasonable chance that sometimes the meeting would never have happened, denying the economic benefit to all, and we would have been left with airlinks and vehicle journeys, and added to the carbon problem, not reduced it.

  122. 5tormwatch says:

    Saying that Tim McEwen makes some good points above.

  123. How about waiting for the EIA and seeing what it says? Preliminary analysis is that the environmental impact, aside from the destruction of some of our green land, will be positive for the UK. Where things are destroyed (new woodland) this can be managed and recreated. Ancient woodland…not so much, and the fight shouldn’t be so much to say “No, don’t do any of it” but rather to say “This isn’t acceptable in this form, make your designs have less impact”

    The trouble is that you wish to champion this “nimbyism” as environmentalism, but it’s not. It’s just NIMBYism in it’s form that people hate, opposing, FULL STOP, and hiding behind “virtuous” reasons to get it canned such as environmentalism. Engage with the process, it is investment that will happen, the economy needs it to some degree so the idea that the government will just turn around and stop is crazy. They’re more likely to listen to annoyed constructive participants than angry ranting ones.

  124. 5tormwatch says:

    I am not bothered what name they label us with, I have been called worse then NIMBY. What is important is getting the issue noticed and publicised and if being called a NIMBY achieves that then so be it. Let the NIMBY’s of the country unite to make one big mega-nimby to make a noise that Cameron & co cannot ignore.

  125. Bobbie says:

    …All this just to accrue 20 minutes or so on a train journey! But, of course, there will be the ‘wrong weather’, ‘wrong snow’, ‘wrong Autumn leaves’, ‘wrong rain’, ‘wrong whatever’ which will cause any new train line to default on its billion £ building remit once it is seen to operate. “SUCKS! To 20 Minutes Gain On A Fantasy Railway!”

  126. j.Glanville says:

    NIMBY-is used as a term of derision for those of independent minds who are speaking out against an authoritarian states imposing its own agenda-e.g.High speed 2- minimal gain in speed ,maximum disturbance to many.It would be better to use this money miraculously available for more general improvement to railway system.Some gain for the majority-reliability.,more rolling stock overall better service.

    We may not want what I choose to call “A disimprovement”( i.e. a retrograde,poorer service across all businesses private and public under the guise of giving a better service which we know will not be the case) in our own back yard but this does not mean that we are wrong,or that we wish to impose the problem onto someone else.IT IS that the proposed project is inherently flawed from its inception.

    Great Britain is a small geographical island area.The land is finite.We have a high population density..
    Projects which maybe feasible in other larger countries with lower population densities therefore are not feasible in the U.K. because of the disturbance and polution they cause.

  127. Helen says:

    This is what Congleton’s Civic Society have to say on the subject of the made-up term ‘NIMBY’:

  128. Mrs Stevie Hobbs says:

    I HATE the word Nimby which stands for Not In My Backyard and has really nothing to do with what we are doing so please- find a better name for us. You cannot make a word which is associated with nimbyism ever change in people’ minds –
    It’s like using the word Hate and meaning Love.
    I am proud to be a follower but not if I’m to be called a NIMBY.

  129. Claire Cooper says:

    No to HS2 but yes to a rethink of public transport in the North. Quicker links to London are not needed but better links between northern cities are.

    • tlankester says:

      It is about links to the continental high speed network. In that context London is just a way station. Why should London benefit from high speed rail links to Paris, Brussels and Frankfurt but Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester should not?

  130. Daid Meek says:

    Turn it against them with a few crisp slogans e.g.:

    Cameron’s train trash? Not through my backyard.

    Woodland wasteland? Not in my backyard.

    and …

    Be proud to be a NIMBY. Stick up for woodland everywhere.

  131. Ron says:

    Quite agree with what you say, I think we should all form an organization and call it S.I.B.I.F, STUPID IDEAS BY IDIOTS AND FOOLS.

  132. Bob Tilley says:

    HS2 is more about capacity than speed. It is necessary and the challenge is how do we build the additional transport capacity with the minimum environmental and social impact. The question is how do we achieve the necessary additional capacity “well or better”. It is not a “yes /no” question.

    • Rwth Hunt says:

      Why is it necessary? Why rush about, when we have the interweb? Some things have to be transported, but people don’t think “Is your journey really necessary?”

  133. Tim McEwen says:

    I tend to agree with Peter Wilson’s comments; unfortunately, the NIMBY response is often not generated by a desire to project the environment but as a means of protecting the value of people’s property, or some similar reaction. It is, however, very difficult if not impossible to get people to admit this. Whilst HS2 may not be the best method of obtaining increased capacity on the rail network, I do not think that it is a sensible approach to state that NIMBYism is a rational response to the imputed threat of this new railway line, because it is not – a far more nuanced approach is required.

    I am a geologist who has spent more than thirty years dealing with geological aspects of the management and disposal of radioactive waste in a large number of countries – in particular with the selection and characterisation of potential disposal sites. I was heavily involved for many years with all geological aspects of the site selection programmes in the UK for both low level and long-lived radioactive waste and have had many meetings with planners and social scientists regarding the more general environmental and sociological aspects of site selection. I have written several papers on the subject – through none recently I am currently involved with the planned development of a repository for spent fuel in Finland, in an area where the local population are generally in agreement with the proposal. I am very keen on protecting the environment and am a member of several charities whose aim is to protect the environment and also protect historic houses, and the safe disposal of radioactive waste, which is perfectly possible, is extremely difficult to achieve in many countries because of people’s opposition. This opposition is frequently a knee-jerk response and frequently there is no real desire to understand the scientific rationale behind the proposed development or the real risks involved. Similar, but less extreme, opposition is often found to the development of projects which are absolutely necessary for society, such as power stations and even small-scale farm developments, opposition which I have experienced recently near where I live. Such developments have to be located somewhere, so that we have sufficient power and food, but as many people are effectively divorced from the methods used to generate power and supply food – they just expect that electricity, gas and food to be available at reasonable prices, without in many cases having much idea as to how these commodities are produced – they do not understand the impact of their opposition to the production of such commodities. They do appear in some circumstances to oppose for the sake of opposing. This opposition can exist, even if the impact of such developments on their lifestyle and the environment where they live is likely to be minimal.

    This means, in my opinion, that the Woodland Trust is unlikely to be treated very seriously in their opposition to HS2 if they take this approach and if their prime argument is that NIMBYism is a rational response to the ‘threat’. I expect better of you as an organisation.

    • Rwth Hunt says:

      Don’t call NIMBY’s anti science. Geology is one branch of science. I am a very humble ecologist, and it is the balance of nature we need to protect. Yes, by all means dispose of nuclear waste safely, but why did it have to wait until the old stations were being decommissioned. A person in your position told me once at a conference, that safe disposal costs even more than production.

      In ecological terms we should be curbing our numbers as the Human race is unsustainable. Ancient woodlands have much more value in my view, wherever they are than the wishes of some politician’s toady or the people who insist that their Science is bigger than ours.

      • Mike King says:

        You’re right, Rwth, there are too many of us on this planet. Soo, are you going to an early grave then? Perhaps your parents should have failed to procreate? No offence intended but it is so easy to talk about “over population” without considering one’s own personal contribution to the perceived “problem” or proposing a workable and humanely acceptable alternative. But I have thought about it – and I have a proposal. Let us follow in the footsteps, nay, space leaps, of fictional pioneers like Dan Dare “Pilot of the Future” who could blast off into space dressed in his smart and appropriately green uniform, and of Captain Kirk, of the Starship Enterprise, and go off and colonise other worlds with some of our surplus billions. Along the way, we could dump our nuclear waste on uninhabitable moons too. Thus killing two birds with one stone! When we get to the suitable planet, we immediately plant the billions of tiny cloned Earth trees donated by the Woodland Trust and quickly create a suitable atmosphere. There, job done!

      • Roger Smith says:

        Bang on Rwth, let’s get the thick headed politicians to think of ways to reduce population numbers before it’s too late, One should listen more to David Attenborough on this subject, but I don’t think any of the current batch of our ‘wonderful’ MP’s are capable of doing anything other than listening to the money men who finance them.

  134. BG! says:

    Way back in time it took the best part of a day to visit the next village on Shanks’s Pony, a trip to The Smoke was a weekend affair, visiting The Continent took an age even if you knew where it was and reaching fabled places like Africa and Asia required an expedition. If you wanted a holiday by the sea you headed for the North Sea or the South Coast.

    Nowadays modern travel has effectively shrunk our world. There are few places that you can’t reach in a couple of days. Our neighbours are the French, not the folk in the house next door. If you want a holiday by the sea you head for the Med, the Indian Ocean or the Caribbean.

    So, maybe it’s a matter of scale. When I was a kid my back yard was behind our house. Now I regard the whole of the UK as my back yard. After all, I’ve been taxed to maintain it!

    With that in mind I say YES to NIMBYism and YES to NIMBYs.

    NO to HS2 and to the idea of it connecting places that really needed linking before their local industries died. Trains only go where the tracks allow them to go, that’s why folk use cars – they go when, where and how you want them to go, and stop when you say so. Have you tried making an unplanned detour in a train?

    And NO to plagues of windfarms trashing the backyard until they’re truly “green”, economical and unobtrusive.

  135. docrichard says:

    I agree up to a point, but it depends on what is being objected to. It seems that HS2 is just an ill-conceived prestige project. If it could fulfil its stated aim of relieving unemployment and poverty in the Midlands, objections, NIMBY or not, would be weaker. In fact, it seems that the effect of HS2 will simply be to encourage commuters to move further from London. Therefore the NIMBYs have a good point.

    Several people have mentioned wind farms here, and the same argument applies. There is a widespread misconception coming from the same corner of the room that generates doubt about man-made climate change that wind power is ineffective and unpopular. In fact, both points are untrue, but the lobbyists are causing powerful NIMBY campaigns to be mounted, which could ultimately cause us to miss our carbon dioxide reduction targets.

    The established and reasonable way to overcome this kind of NIMBYism is to offer people in the vicinity of windfarms a reduction in their electricity bill.

    So it is not simply a case of NIMBYism – good or bad? We have to look at the true value of that which the focus of the objection.

  136. gina says:

    I agree. Who else is going to protect a local area such as an ancient woodland from being bulldozered. Especially when officials keep it quiet as to what their plans are, such that any larger organization who might help does not hear about it until it is too late. Generally people buy a house in an area for specific reasons. This means they do have an interest, and since they pay taxes a right, in voting on any changes in their neighborhood and NIMBYism is a healthy response to unpleasant changes that might be forced upon their environment. Just because an official is elected does not mean they are fantastic at design, architecture, environment or anything, other than sweet talking their voters into voting for them because they have an agenda. You only have to look at the ugly strip malls blighting the USA to see that.

  137. Bridget Elton says:

    As someone has already pointed out, NIMBY basically means, ‘put it anywhere but near me’. NIMBY is not about protecting the environment, it’s about looking after your own, (and often your own property value), at the expense of others’. Very bad choice of term for us, in my opinion. I am undecided on HS2, but I think we should look at whether high speed rail on the continent has brought environmental advantages in terms of reduced short haul flying. Maybe the Woodland Trust should propose an alternative route for HS2 rather than opposing it altogether – what about running it alongside the M1? And if it is going to be built, surely it would make sense for it to run to Newcastle and Scotland – places that people currently often fly to – rather than Birmingham. ‘The greatest good for the greatest number’ is a very sensible starting point for considering any proposal. Think global act local, not think local act local, which is what NIMBYs do.

    • Nikki Williams says:

      Hi Bridget, just to clarify, the Woodland Trust is not anti-High Speed Rail. We are opposing this route due to its destruction to ancient woodland and the wider habitat network so valued by everyone whilst being labelled a ‘green transport’ initiative. Our approach is solution focused and alternatives to this route are welcomed for re-assessment as HS2 Ltd did not show their process for narrowing down alternatives to this final route in the initial consultation. We would not, however use charitable funds to scope a new route for HS2 Ltd.

  138. Bill Swift says:

    We should be careful not to be labelled NIMBY. It is entirely rational to argue against HS2 on the grounds that the cost/benefit analysis puts insufficient value on the environment. But the reason that NIMBY’s have a bad name is that they are often people who would be in favour of a project if it wasn’t in their back yard. If so, they are being selfish, albeit understandably so. They will deploy all sorts of arguments to justify their stance, but their real complaint is it’s their patch that’s suffering for the wider good. We can oppose HS2 on the grounds that even with the optimum route it’s not worthwhile. Or we can fight for a route which does less harm to our particular interest (ancient woodland). If we do both, we are in danger of being seen as insincere and using any means to hand to be as obstructive as possible . For the locals, that may be the best way to defend their patch, but for the Woodland Trust it risks damaging our credibility. Not being transport experts, the Trust should concentrate on trying to get a higher value put on ancient woodland, and on thereby justifying more palliative measures or an adjusted route.

  139. Alan says:

    I get so frustrated with the term NIMBY. What’s wrong with wanting to protect and carecfor your local area? If you don’t care about your own backyard then why would you care about anywhere else? We need more NIMBYs

  140. John Fellowes says:

    I tend to agree with PhilTheBass – there’s a risk of confusing different principles here. Perhaps the bigger question is: what do we want to be YIMBY ( about? Ancient woodland is infinitely more important to my wellbeing than faster trains, but renewable energy, and climate stabilisation, are two other fundamental needs I have.

    It’s certainly time we outgrew simplistic equations based on the rate of flow of money (GDP), whose correlation with wellbeing (or with inclusive wealth) is often a negative one.

    If economic projections have a place, they need to be grounded in a realistic understanding of the fast-changing energetic basis of the economy (a point that appears to have eluded generations of UK leaders and their economic advisers). This too will have implications for woodlands – a revival of woodland industry may give us further NIMBYism quandaries – but we need to conscientiously weigh legitimate concern for our own corner against our unseen impacts on the world.

  141. Ann Dempster says:

    If we look back at projects that upset the countryside, we can see how much benefit they have since given eg the cut that the M3 made through an ancient burial ground, the Newbury bi-pass. I always remember, when sailing through, what was there before both in stop/start driving and hours of delay but also how hard the locals fought to preserve the area. The UK needs good transport to compete, to open up areas outside London. Other countries have far better links. NIMBY is fine to check out that the best is done to make sure that HS2 does the least damage. But I have no doubt that HS2 is essential and it is far better to use trains than the road. I run a national business and if the trains were more efficient and frequent, we could do so much more.

  142. I personally think ‘NIMBYism’ is destroying any green policies the country can come up with as, with any proposal, some of the local people living near it don’t want any kind of change (beneficial or not) and would simply prefer that the rest of the country host it. I think the huge amount of objections to windfarms are a prime example of such behaviour. After all, if each area was forced to generate all its own electricity, instead of relying on others to do it for them, they’d all soon stop objecting to windfarms if the alternative was a huge nuclear or coal-fired power station in their immediate area.

    If I’m going to object to anything, I take a whole country view and decide what’s good or bad for the country (or even the planet) and not what I personally want to see in my own area – anything else is selfish!

  143. Geoff says:

    I cannot recall who came up with the witty mnemonic ‘nimby’ for anyone objecting to others messing in their backyard but the sheeplike public soon adopted the insult as a way to put down objectors. It struck me at the time that everyone was a nimby if they cared at all about their area. Had it been first used to describe a responsible public-spirited concern it would now be seen as a compliment instead of an insult.

  144. Paul Daniel says:

    It is perfectly right and proper for Governments to put forward large scale projects that they believe the country as a whole requires. It is equally correct for people effected by such proposals to object if they think the plans unreasonable.

    The idea of a faster rail line to the North is not an unreasonable one in itself; it is just a matter of whether this is the right time to do it and this is a good way of doing it at a sensible price. Everyone concerned has a right to make their voices heard, including the Government and so called Nimbys. Ultimately, the Government will decide because they have the power to do so, as presented to them by the wider electorate but they are unlikely to go ahead if enough people object because it will cost them votes and seats in Westminster at the next election. Democracy is not a perfect system but it’s the best that mankind has come up with to date and if it is to work properly, everyone has to be heard, however unreasonable others may consider their views. In the same way, every potential criminal is entitled to a defence and the respective arguments must be heard before his or her case is decided.

    So, Nimbys should not suffer derogatory comments and be described as selfish local people and Government officials should not be considered to be power mad destroyers of the countryside. The views of each of these camps is essential if we are all to continue living together sensibly without taking to the streets with cudgels or whatever.

    As for me; I am against HS2 because I do not think it’s needed right now in preference to the improvements that could and should be carried out to the existing railway network; it’s current route is too destructive upon the counrtyside and the money involved could be better spent elsewhere at a time of economic difficulty. I am only an ‘honorary Nimby’ because I live in Tunbridge Wells but I have written to my MP to oppose it and will continue to lobby against HS2 because I think that it’s a badly thought out project that costs too much. The more people who keep going against this project the more likely it is to fail and the Government will be obliged to remember that NIMBY’s RULE; literally.

  145. barry luxton says:

    ohh dear lets all go back to the horse and cart, candles etc for heat and light. wot you lot like, we went through both hs1 and the widening (doubling) of our motor way at the same time, folkestone up to london a total of 40 properties were affected on all of the line. Whats so special about your sacred hallowed ground then in comparrision to the benifit it will bring. no longer does the commuter have to rely on over crowded cattle trucks upto the capital. Nor do we que on our motor way. Apart from the m25 car park and the two crossings. So rejoice and bring it on. Bring on the purpose made airport in the south east, with new road and rail crossings over the thames, with new routes upto the north from south. Get real.

    • Sam says:

      Can anyone make any sense of this?

    • Roger Smith says:

      Don’t be a pilock Barry! the planet will get real sooner than tou think.

      • David says:

        Et tu, Brute! He’s right, we do not want our very important campaign to preserve and maintain woodland to be sullied with this NIMBY nonsense. There will be developments we don’t like, WT role has to be moderation not blanket opposition, otherwise there is the risk of marginalisation. I am not saying cave in, I am saying work with it as long as possible to get the optimum result.

  146. Matt Carter says:

    I support the woodland trust and its campaigns but would have serious reservations about supporting any initiative that promotes the NIMBY term. ‘Appropriate NIMBY’ is all well and good but it sounds like a term dreamed of by a spad on the thick of it unfortunately.
    An ‘appropriate NIMBY’ is no different to a concerned resident.
    With regards to ‘NIMBYs are the environmental champions of our time’ in my parents local area an electricity substation was prevented from being built by NIMBYism. This was to facilitate supply from offshore wind turbines securing long term renewable energy, the planning committee approved it, as it the EA, natural england, rspb etc as it had minimal impact of fauna / flora and the neighbouring village (it was to be built on a monoculture field and landscaped by trees so you would not see it), yet the councillors in their infinite wisdom rejected it. Why? local NIMBYism. There was no scientific advice supporting the nimbys just prejudice and misinformation.
    I have an environmental background (BSc, MSC, worked in environmental sector) but would struggle to support the use of the term NIMBY, in spite of agreeing with your article, sorry.

  147. Michael Hammerson says:

    Remember that the word NIMBY is an acronym coined by our most hostile and anti-conservation Heritage/Environment Minister (and we have had a few of them), Nicholas Ridley. It has since been used only by those who have no interest in, or care for, the historic, rural or living environment and use the age-old tactic of propagating “the big lie” to try to bulldoze through bad or ill-considered developments. Most so-called NIMBYs are people who have no other way of showing their concern about bad development and bad town planning in a regime which is increasingly hostile to town planning and which they are powerless to influence; remember David Cameron’s appalling comment last September that “we must get the planners off our backs” For ten years I was the Town Planning officer at the much-missed Civic Trust, and we argued repeatedly to successive governments that the best way of getting more, good development, was to give local people a real locus in the Planning system and give them a real role in, and responsibility for, how their area is developed; the Localism agenda is merely a cosmetic move and is aimed at promoting more development, not better development, because the planning system is being relentlessly assailed and it is becoming ever more difficult, even for local authorities, let alone local people, to resist bad developments. If NIMBYS are people who want to see good development and have a role in it, then the 1,400 members of our local civic amenity are Nimbys and proud of it.

  148. Ken Brown says:

    NIMBYism is, of course, a legitimate local response to national or regional threats to the environment. The downside is that intense preoccupation with local issues can, and does, divert energy and attention from the fact that many threats to our environment have supra-national origins; in the financial interests of multinational corporations, investment banks and hedge funds with enormous lobbying power at national levels; in the feebleness of national politicians who have successively divested themselves of control over the corporate and financial sectors. Unless a balance is struck between these levels of campaigning (and often it is not) NIMBYs can find themselves winning the occasional skirmish but losing the war.

    • Joseph James Marshall says:

      An excellent response to a thought-provoking article: you’re right to draw attention to the broader perspective. I very much agree with what you’ve written here. Slow-witted and feeble national politicians are constantly being outsmarted (when they aren’t being bought) by big companies who operate internationally. Lobbyists, public relations people, press barons and plutocrats compound the problem for any politician who might actually want to do some good in the world.

      I don’t accept the false dichotomy between dealing with our infrastructure needs and looking after our local and national environments. While there will always be tension between development and conservation, many of the problems boil down to money.

      And I know where the money to fund good solutions can be found: in the bloated bonus packages of derivative traders, company chief executives and others of that ilk – as well as in the billion-dollar buckets of the stuff sloshing around in offshore tax havens.

  149. Ann Jones says:

    The UK isn’t a large country so do we really need HS2? The benefits or arriving in Leeds half an hour sooner do not outweigh the destruction of the countryside. The money would be better spent in other ways. I think the blog is spot on and I’m not bothered if I’m called a NIMBY, what’s not to like?

    • tlankester says:

      The problem I have with this article is that it casts HS2 as all about rail speed. It is not. It is about capacity and creating a true intercity network designed for the job, leaving the current (essentially Victorian) rail intrastructure to allow growth in stopping passenger services and freight transport. The HS bit only comes about as is take relatively little more investment to upgrade the spec of a new rail route from current intercity speeds to continental spec high speeds. In themselves the higher speed of the trains has 2 additional benefits: 1) increasing capacity on the high speed lines themselves and 2) providing an alternative to short range air travel.

      I am not sure about the relevance of the size of the UK (though the 400+miles form Glasgow to London is not inconsiderable). The continental HS network would link Leeds to Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt….

  150. Nigel White says:

    Nimbyism is fine and I support a localist view, but I do think that people need to take responsibility for their consumption. e.g. If you use electricity, you should be prepared to generate it with a wind turbine locally if it is suitable, or,
    if you live in a house that includes cement, why should a cement works not be located near to you? or,
    to draw on a current Friends of the Earth campaign, if we are happy to use smartphones that use tin, are we happy to devastate our “back yard” like the devastation going on from Tin mining in Bangka Island, Indonesia – see
    We all need to take more responsibility for our consumption. And if we don’t like it, consume less.
    I wonder if anyone shares this view!

  151. steve johnson says:

    I remember Nicholas Ridley, from Margaret Thatchers cabinet,criticising ‘NIMBY’s in the 80’s then in a stunning display of hypocrisy,getting caught out by the press,objecting to a development near his own house!
    I thought of another term ‘LAMBY’ :looking after my back yard!

    • saveshottery says:

      While Mike has done a great job of stirring up the debate with a controversial question, I too am loathe to use a term with such hugely negative connotations that is all too quickly used against anyone fighting to protect the environment. Steve’s idea of LAMBY is moving in the right direction, but it’s still ‘my’ backyard. It got me thinking, though, and so may I suggest ‘PROBY’ Protecting OUR Backyard – being ‘pro’ is also much more favourable than being anti! Debbie Griffiths

  152. Billone says:

    Sorry but I cannot agree with this defence of NIMBYism for two reasons:
    1. It reduces the argument to a local problem when it is much larger than this. The opposition are entitled to treat it on the terms you use to present it – dangerous.
    2 If you argue from a NIMBY standpoint then it is reasonable for the other party to respond “Well if not in your back yard, then where should I put it?” That causes a lot of new problems.
    I suggest you rethink.

  153. John Phillips says:

    Well said, Peter Wilson.
    Nimbyism is about trashing other people’s back yards. That’s what unthinking use of cars and planes does. Clearly the environmental arguments for HS2 are a balancing issue, and yes ancient woodlands should be defended and saved from damage – but this also means saving them from destruction by climate change. Please raise the level of debate by several notches!

  154. nimb huh there are many terms that steriotype people into idiots religeous nuts ect usually used by someone trying to make a fast buck or a glib tongued politician all most of us want is to see england remain green and free protected for the future they are not our woods they belong too mother nature herself who provides for all to enjoy long may the fight continue

  155. ‘Nimbyism’ is definitely ‘me’! I completely agree, that it is a slur to detract from other more pressing agendas. But this goes much deeper, to a point where – if we all pulled ‘together’ and ousted out capitalism (especially our present form of ‘greedy’ capitalism) we actually could create a far better and more sustainable world. It is only ignorance and greed that hold us back, but ignorance and greed are (sadly) seemingly the largest slice of the human pie!

  156. lesley wilkinson says:

    Sorry “not” should read “now”!

  157. lesley wilkinson says:

    We are all busy people and mostly only start to get involved when we realise it is going to affect us. Then, we start to do lots of research and get the “bigger picture” which then snowballs. This is human nature and there is nothing wrong with it. I am not really concerned for our countryside on every level – woods, building on greenfield sites, ineffective and expensive wind farms which destroy peoples’ lives and the railway stuff. Why can’t we just update the one we have? By the time it comes into existence who knows what this country will be like? This government and all the preceding ones seldom look into the future in a positive way.

  158. Bywater blog says:

    The HS2 is a good means of public transport and will help to save the “wider environment”. NIMBYism can be the right response to new developments, but those in charge are right to think of the greater good. Is HS2 money well spent, I am not sure.

  159. PhilTheBass says:

    It depends what we’re being NIMBY about. Like a lot of others I’m not sure HS2 is required and should not be built. We need MUCH more effort putting into digital communications and stopping people needing to travel… On the other hand when it comes to sustainable energy and wind farms are objected to I just think ‘so where do people think we’re going to get our power from in the future’, and I’ve just got that feeling that some NIMBYs may be the first to complain as fuel prices go up and/or ‘the lights go out’!

    • Gillespie Robertson says:

      The reason fuel prices are going up and the lights about to go out is the idiocy of both the current and the previous Governments’ energy policies. It is low cost electricity which has brought countless benefits to humankind, and the lowest cost energy is that based on fossil fuels . They have the added benefit of enriching our atmosphere with carbon dioxide, which, contrary to “received wisdom” (which thank heaven Mother Nature is gradually showing to be extremely UNwise, as the world fails to warm up as forecast by the human-produced-CO2 alarmists and their computer models) is not merely NOT a “pollutant,” but on the contrary is THE essential gas of life on earth. Its continuing increase in the atmosphere is the reason why the world’s forests (when not burned or slashed down by human greed and folly or replaced by ugly and diversity-hating monocultures designed either to meet lunatic prescriptions for “biofuels” or to earn vast “carbon credits” for their often fraudulent promoters) are steadily growing and the Sahara and other deserts are shrinking. Incidentally the second lowest cost form of energy would be nuclear, were it not for the enormous cost in time and money of getting over the fear induced (often in the NIMBY community) by anti-nuclear campaigners. The MOST expensive and least efficient form of energy by far is wind energy, and our politicians’ historical support of more and more wind farms and their accompanying pylons, all despoiling our most beautiful places, and all in the name of “carbon” reduction targets (what an absurd misnomer, as CO2 has nothing to do with dirty unburnt carbon particles) which go far beyond those of any other countries’ while China and india build more coal-fired power staions in a year than all of our own constructed over many decades, is simply insane. So I say “good for the NIMBYs who don’t want wind farms or high speed trains in their back yards, but let’s educate the NIMBYs who don’t want nuclear power stations in their back yards.” By the way my comments are not in tune with the stated position of the Woodland Trust, the rest of whose work i supprt wholeheartedly, on climate change. I regard that position as ill-advised but have so far not succeeded in having it changed.

      • Mike King says:

        You make some good points, Gillespie, wind generators are useful for niche markets where electrical energy provision is difficult. But for mainstream generation, they are very inefficient and rarely deliver the claimed outputs. They cannot be called on stream when required. Providing Gas back up (to wind generators) on a stop/start basis (keep re-firing and re-heating) is also inefficient and causes more pollution to be expelled than constant use. Fifteen years ago we should have started building the new generation nuclear power plants, the intermediate solution, while investing more in the international fusion power generation research. We would also have probably been better off building more stored water hydroelectric schemes – which do provide better on demand energy capacity. (Especially since “climate change” (sic!) now seems to mean frequent monsoons and an abundance of water. (Which we could also store more of and sell to arid countries!)

        But we are still sitting on 3/4 of our coal reserves. The energy from this resource could now be better utilised and the CO2 stored, partly in a new abundance of trees and green foliage we should be planting (we are probably the least afforested nation in Europe) and partly underground. But I agree, the ill informed alarm over the 1/400th part of one per cent of our planet’s atmospheric constitution, CO2, is quite frightening. That so many people can so easily be misled (reminds me of the Nazi’s success before WWII)! Historical evidence indicates that CO2’s contribution to global warming tends to impact long after the process has become very apparent, hundreds of years after. So who is creating this alarm and for what purpose? High altitude water vapour and Methane are far more effective “green house” gasses! We could cut methane production by drastically reducing domestic meat production, but if we all become vegan’s, might we not negate the saving?!

        I wonder if you are also aware of the American CSR, Coalition for Sustainable Rail’s Project 130 “To pursue the reinvestigation of steam traction as a type of higher speed passenger rail motive power”? (“Steam Railway” No 408 Nov/Dec 2012) They are re-equipping Fe 4-6-4 Locomotive No. 3463 (from the 1950 -60’s) to burn torrefied biomass, or “biocoal” which has the same energy and density of coal, without the attributable ash, heavy metals or net carbon output. It is made from solid dry biomass through a 96% thermally-efficient conversion process. The project has already started and has official backing. With modern understanding of motion and thermodynamics, they hope to produce a locomotive prototype that can maintain high cruising speeds of around 100 m.p.h with spells of 125 m.p.h wherever suitable. A German and an Australian have developed vehicle engines, that once started run on AIR! The German is using a convention style engine configuration, whereas the Australian has constructed a form of rotary compression engine. If both (or either) can also accommodate and electrical pump priming system on board that the air engine can rew-charge – you have the prospect of unlimited travel on virtually just – AIR! These technological advances are the way we should have been thinking long ago. But sadly, as with the Whittle jet engine, the only time anyone in our brain dead governments takes a real interest, is when you virtually whack them in the face with a finished project!

  160. Stephen Plowden says:

    the term NIMBY goes back for decades and I don’t think it was coined withe cost benefit analysis in mind. There were then and still are, though I think there are fewer of them now, people who were prepared to say about some unwelcome development ” put it where you like so long as it is not in my backyard”. it is right to castigate such people.

    Cost benefit analysis is a useful technique but it cannot be used to evaluate everything. In particular it cannot be used to evaluate the loss of a national and irreplaceable treasure such as the loss of countryside involved in HS2.

    In any case, regardless of what method of evaluation is used, HS2 has been compared only was some “do minimum” situation. This breaks the government’s own rules. You have to start with problems and then develop alternative ways of solving them. The main justification given by the government for HS2 is that we need the extra capacity. However, Chris Stokes has shown that enough capacity to meet the implausibly high forecasts can be obtained by various improvements to the existing line and services at a fraction of the cost of HS2, much more quickly, and with little or no environmental damage. Any attempt to justify HS2 would have to compare it with a scheme of that sort and show that the incremental benefits would justify the incremental costs. It is impossible to show that. In addition there are numerous mistakes both in the predictions for HS2 and in the method of evaluation even according to the conventional rules governing cost benefit analysis.

  161. Justine says:

    Excellent piece! Caring about your own back yard is the first step to caring about the rest of the world. We need to start questioning the whole bigger/faster/cheaper is better culture that is destroying our food, water, air, countryside, health, relationships, quality of life.

  162. Peter Kyte says:

    Politicians of all ilk, only think in the short term ie the length of time they are in power and they do like to remembered for some great project they masterminded. Although I think in the terms of HS2 there is a lot of idealogical and political cant be propagated, especially by Dave and George.

  163. Peter Wilson says:

    This Cranford-style campaign is the wrong approach altogether – associating the challenges faced here with the myopic self-interest of NIMBY’s is not the way to an agreeable future. Our trees deserve better than this mini-mindedness – yes the economics and environmental confusion of HS2 certainly make it a questionable project, but the Woodland Trust needs to do much better than to take this little Englander approach if it is to present an objective and convincing case against it. Come on guys – you can do better than this.

    • brian palmer says:

      I agree with Peter, the term ‘nimby’ is so loaded with negative conotations, people just wouldn’t ‘get it’, especially if it required them to think! Once again this gov’t is showing it’s contempt for the people of this country by riding roughshod over their legitimate concerns about the environment and more specifically, the environment where they happen to live, yet again the profits of the few are held to be more important than the lives of the many.

    • Alec Dingwall says:

      It’s not apropos to use terms like ‘myopic’ and ‘mini-mindedness’ and ‘little Englander’ in this context. None of these has much validity here. England is made up of localities, each of which can be thought to represent the whole. The right husbanding of localities, and localities’ consciousness of what they are and want to remain or want to improve about themselves, make for the healthy constitution of the country. People are local, and what is local has primary importance. Nimbyism does not mean shameful selfishness and national betrayal. I much approve of Mike Townsend’s arguments.

      • David says:

        I am afraid it does! Whilst it is entirely appropriate to fight for local issues if you believe they are wrong in principle, it is entirely wrong to campaign against something which one would be quite happy to use as long as its NIMB! Someone, ie the Government, has to look at the big picture and decide as to the greater good. We may not always agree, but without that we would have no railways and the like. Being labelled NIMBY risks losing all credibility and marginalising the campaign to save woodlands which is off much greater importance.

  164. This man should get a medal for such common sense, what a pity that those in power don’t seem to have much. Yes, let’s all be proud to be appropriate NIMBYs!

  165. Erika Cannon says:

    So agree with this post. Being an appropriate NIMBY is being able to truly see the wider picture. When the only criteria is financial there is something very basically wrong the decisions being made. We need good quality infrastructure but adding unnecessary rail-lines or roads [usually for the gain of a very small number of individuals] at the cost of our hard pressed countryside, that defines us as a Nation, is fundamentally wrong. Railways [yes Mr Beeching!] and roads come and go – once an ancient forest or farm is destroyed it is gone FOREVER.

  166. A great post, thoughtful and truthful… hope it reaches a wide audience.. people who are fighting for their environment shouldn;t have to face criticism… it takes energy and courage to stand up for what you beleive…

  167. Peter David Leech says:

    We really have to get behind al the bodies that are fighting this disaster HS2 There are so many bodies that a rolling over infront of this Quango – Why I do not know – but they are – The very institutions that should be protecting our Countryside . But well done Woodland Matters you are my hero you have the gutts to stand up – When they realiase we have no woods and no shade it will be too late when the land is burnt up but never mind they will have their air con train to newhere – Not if I have anything to do with it.

    • sally cakebread says:

      Agreed. English Heritage doing nothing to protect heritage being destroyed or damaged by HS2.
      But The Woodland Trust needs to do more ………
      marking each tree sounds a good idea.

  168. Alex Jones says:

    Projects like this would never have come into being in a nation that had a bottom-up approach to decision making i.e.localism over centralised decision making. It is a deep insult to all communities to place them into a position of dishonour for wanting to protect the integrity of their resources against destruction by external influences.

  169. Aileen Cheetham says:

    Agreed wholeheatedly.How could we get goods to export airports etc. Couldn’t Britsol be used instead?

    • Dr Peter Vickers says:

      I agree with everything that has been said. The majority of people, I am sure, would want to save Britain’s heritage, and that starts in people’s localities – hence NIMBY should not be be considered a term of abuse – as now, but rather as the first step in trying to preserve something of Britain’s countryside and beauty for future generations.

      • David says:

        Fine, but without progress and development we would not have a heritage! It is a term of abuse because it refers to selfish insular people who don’t care as long as its not in their back yard, but are happy to use ‘it’. We don’t want that label surely!

      • Mike King says:

        All very well Doctor, but presumably you have studied at a University? On whose land was that built and possibly later developed? Did you live there and travel to your distant home? Or did you live locally and simply commute? I bet you HAVE used development quite a lot, road rail and possibly airports too. But you are opposed to any further development for the common good. You see, NIMBY’ism is not a fair policy, it is selfish and basically means passing the buck to someone else and threatening THEIR back yard! Considered and rational objection and helping to develop an alternative policy and being prepared to compromise when really necessary, is a fairer approach. Anyway, being a fair minded, yet still concerned about “heritage” and our “countryside” (which I was peacefully enjoying long before many of you extra millions came along!), I am pleased to have contributed to all the further education that many millions have enjoyed. Unfortunately, necessity of income meant that I left school and started work at the age of 14!

        • Alan Gee says:

          I think you’ve missed the point. I believe the point is why should one person ride roughshod over someone else just because they think their need is greater than theirs. In the case of HS2 their need is not greater than the devastation it will cause other communities and loss of jobs around the Country. The fact is in my area jobs will be lost because businesses will relocate, damage will be caused to the environment and as we rely on tourism yet more jobs will go, so who is the selfish person now? It is a proven fact, even HS2 have admitted it, that there is little, if any, benefit financially. If you factor in the damage caused and the ongoing maintenance costs, the economic and social disdavantages caused to communities lining the route the case for HS2 is very flawed.

          1. Waste of money and wrong priority – a £30bn vanity project that costs
          every family over £1,000 is the wrong priority for us and at a time of austerity. It’s a
          railway for the rich paid for by everyone
          “At a time of painful cuts elsewhere, spending such a large sum on a single
          project that will benefit only a portion of the country is a criminal waste of
          scarce resources”
          – Sunday Telegraph, editorial

          2. The business case is flawed – the benefits are exaggerated (relying on time
          savings that assume people don’t work on trains), demand is over-optimistic (based
          on growth over 35yrs) and the alternatives unrealistic. A realistic payback is more like
          50p for every £1 spent
          “There is a significant risk that High Speed 2 (HS2) will become the latest in a
          long series of government big-project disasters”
          – Institute for Economic Affairs

          3. HS2 can’t cure the north south divide – the evidence from experts and
          DSfT/HS2 Ltd actually points to London and the south benefiting most in terms of
          jobs and growth
          “Official documents suggest that … capital is likely to flow from Manchester
          and Leeds to London rather than the other way round.”
          – Camilla Cavendish, The Times

          4. Better alternatives to improving our railways – cheaper, more costeffective,
          greener ways to meet our capacity needs can be rolled out as required –
          benefiting more people, more quickly
          “The burning need in public transport is not for sexy, pointy-nosed high speed
          trains whose economics simply don’t stack up. It’s for boring unglamorous
          improvements to the services we actually use.”
          – Andrew Gilligan, The Daily Telegraph

          5. The environmental case has collapsed – ultra high speed is not ‘green’,
          passengers say faster speeds are not a priority, CO2 will not reduce (as freed-up
          domestic landing slots are replaced by long haul flights). Irreplaceable landscapes
          will be lost.
          “The Greens [are] passionately committed to social justice and to the
          environment. The current HS2 proposals would serve neither.”
          – The Green Party
          As the Economist (3 Sept. 2011) says:
          “In most developed economies high-speed railways fail to bridge regional divides and
          sometimes exacerbate them…
          Especially in smaller countries, upgrading existing, slower networks often makes
          more sense. Capacity can be increased with longer trains and extended platforms.
          Some spacious first-class carriages could be converted to more compressed second class ones… Better signalling can increase the average speed of journeys…
          Britain still has time to ditch this grand infrastructure project—and should…”
          Source HS2AA

          Please try to see the other point of view – as fat cats building big flashy trainsets isn’t going to help the common man or the common good!! Unless of course you are a ‘fatcat’ wanting to make money from the Country as these are the only persons who may benefit, but even then I know one who says he won’t be using it anyway because the standard train is a bit quick as he doesn’t get enough time to drink, eat and read his newspaper! Struth, what are we thinking!

          • Mike King says:

            Hi Alan
            In fact (if you look at one of my other comments) I agree with you almost entirely! You make some very telling points. I was astonished at the breath taking complacency whith which this project was announced and pressed with vigour. Especially when we are supposedly in a massive economic crisis that requires direction of labour in a Nazi party fashion and a big hit on the nations poorest!
            The cost estimate also sounds childishly low too. Re- working and increasing lanes on the M5 Avonmouth bridge cost twice the initial budget. The Millenium Dome, Wembley Stadium and the London Olympics I believe also doubled estimates in eventual costs. So I would put the HS2 project closer to a total cost of over 100 Billion, over the years of final planning and construction. Meanwhile, my former peaceful village that became the biggest construction sight in Western Europe for a while, still awaits the reconnection of it’s rotting railway line to the national network. The orginal cost estimate to re-connect 2.5 miles of track, plus upgrading signalling and restoring stations was £7.5 million, it is now being suggested that it will cost 50 million and work will not now commence before 2017 – because it cannot be afforded in these stringent times! So I am also against HST2 because the existing network needs even more improvement and we cannot afford the cost of both. It is our money being spent and we ought to have a national vote on it.
            So I did not miss the point. Like many others in this debate I joined the Woodland Trust to help protect our woodlands, ancient trees and to grow millions more trees, not to support the selfish principle of Not In My Back Yard. My point was cogent counter argument, debate and – if necessary, a little compromise on both sides is the more intelligent and adult way to go about things. For example, National grid is now listening to some arguments and where possible, burying cables to protect beautiful/attractive landscapes. The problem is they (and that means all of us buying the electricity) cannot afford the cost of doing that everywhere and it is also just not practical. So someone somewhere will inevitably end up suffering change. That has always been the case with all infrastructure projects and always will be.
            So our communications director should be careful about associating the otherwise very friendly and communal WT with pure nimbyism. Public pressure can now really change things. Sign the e-petitions (Over 100k signatures means it will be referred to a back bench committee to decide on a parliamentary debate.) The WT and “38 Degrees” campaign group have both successfully changed government opinions too, as has the Fair Fuel campaign. So I see no reason for the NIMBY approach. If the WT just becomes another domain of the semi-religious eco warrior brigade who pay little regard to the true realities of life, then they will lose mine and (I suspect) many others respect and support.
            One final point that I do hope that everone here recognises, ours has become a largely puppet government, enacting policies dictated by the most undemcratic EU. Hence the privatisation of our world renowned Royal mail, the NHS and shortly the Fire Service. The EU supremos see public funded projects as, “.. distorting markets.”! They are also intent on forcing fast rapid transport links to all parts of their empire (the soon to be superstate of Europe and near Asia). So hold some of your ammunition, people, for the real culprits that brought this debate about!

    • Sarah Austin says:

      I’m currently a post graduate student in the heritage sector and coincidentally NIMBYism has been a topic of discussion. When addressing matters of heritage it is best practice to evaluate not only the historical and evidential values of an asset, but also the ‘community values’ that are associated with it. The term NIMBY should be viewed as a cultural construct of its time, attitudes must continue to evolve and ‘community values’ regarded with due respect and not as obstacles to ridicule.

    • Derek West says:

      Why cant you be a NIMBY and also be an environmental advocate,I have joined my
      village in rejecting a gravel pit and campaign constantly for protection of the
      planet and the creatures that share it with us.This constent demand for growth
      and deveopment is unsustainable.

      • David says:

        I don’t know the details of your village gravel pit, there may be other factors, but presumably you are quite happy to use gravel paths, concrete and other things for which gravel may be essential so long as it is not produced near you? A NIMBY is someone who is happy to enjoy the benefits of something as long as it is not in their back yard, which is why I abhor the term NIMBY connected to WT. It is an odious, selfish attitude which helps no one and saves nothing! I do agree though that much of our development is powered by the holy grail of growth which is as you say unsustainable.

      • Roger Smith says:

        Absolutely agree, was it not Kenneth Boulding (JFK’s envinonment advisor) who said 50 years ago when the planet’s population was about a third of todays :- “Anyone who believes in infinite growth of anything physical on a finite planet is either a madman or an economist”. I also agree with the comment in the visitors book at the Menin Gate Memorial which said “Do not trust or vote for politicians, it only encourages them”. Also the human race is very fond of describing many other speces as ‘vermin’, when one looks round our ever increasing cities, what is the correct description of ‘vermin’?

        • David says:

          Whilst I agree with much of what you say, the generally accepted meaning of NIMBY, as many have said, is one who is more than happy to take advantage of all the benefits but wants whatever it is in someone else’s back yard not theirs. I for one do not want to be remotely associated with that. We don’t need silly acronyms, just focus on what is important, the protection of ancient and local woodlands and the management of commercial woodlands for the benefit of all. WT must not get mired in the likes of HS2 (except the specifics), Heathrow and the like. It will lose all credibility. By any rational definition we are indeed vermin, outnumbering all other animals by a margin.

          • Wendy says:

            Here, Here. Avoid the NIMBY label at all costs! It’s like saying I don’t want a landfill site in my town, but it’s ok to export the waste I generate from my supermarket packaging to China cos it’s out of sight out of mind. Or I don’t want wind turbines in my county, but I still want power to turn the TV & computer on whenever I want. You can’t have it both ways (or rather, if you want something, there’s inevitably a cost – the question is, how much do you really want it?)

    • Clive Anthony Ramsey says:

      As an country we badly need to maintain a hub airport. If we do not maintain finnacial viability we will not be able to fund our NHS and social services. However there is always money available for politicians pet projects and concerns…… and for their welthy friends who also manage to escapte the harsh justice they woukld see other
      people suffer.

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