Matt Ridley’s Times column on the UK’s infrastructure challenges.
As ever, it’s an objective and data-driven argument:
Of the 1,447 people that Britain added every day in the 12 months to the end of June last year, roughly 529 were births minus deaths, 518 were net arrivals from the European Union, and 537 net arrivals from elsewhere, minus 137 departing British citizens. Given such a flow, our unemployment rate of 4.3 per cent and employment rate of 75.1 per cent are remarkable, if not miraculous. We are one of the world’s great workplaces, which, of course, is why people come.
Though a densely populated country, Britain is not in any sense running out of land. Only about 7 per cent of the land area is classified as urban, rising to almost 11 per cent in England. But of that 11 per cent a great deal is still not concrete: gardens, parks, water and so forth. So the actual paved-over percentage, even just in England, is about 2.27 per cent according to the National Ecosystem Assessment in 2012, and more like 1 per cent for Britain as a whole. This is why a flight over southern England, let alone the Pennines, gives a very different impression from a car journey through the ribbon development along the roads: there is vastly more farmland and woodland (13 per cent of Britain and rising) than concrete.
As so often these days, we suffer from a long-standing failure to have made the case.
Here is the column in the Times.
Here is the same column from Ridley’s own blog, which includes links back to the data sources.
Over decades, we have failed to make the case for development.
We had the Brexit vote (at least partly) because we failed to make the case for immigration.
People deify that nice Uncle Jeremy Corbyn because we failed to make the case for free markets.
Is the shrill intolerance of no-platforming, safe-spacing, snowflake students the result of past failure to make the case for free speech?
Photo by Stephen Crowley on Unsplash