Guardian Unlimited
6th July 2005

Original article at:,,1521686,00.html

Eco sounding

Democracy in question | The pressure's off | Rosy outlook | Glitterati gathering | Stop the rot

Paul Brown
Wednesday July 6, 2005
The Guardian

Democracy in question

It is hard to believe that anyone could answer yes to the following: is it worth destroying the burial ground of an East Saxon king, cutting down 113 mature trees, and covering in concrete 3000 sq metres of Priory Park in order to save Southend motorists less than three minutes on a journey down the A1159? When asked, nearly 20,000 people in the town answered no, and 16 said yes. That was without considering the price tag of £11.2m to turn an 870-metre stretch of road into dual carriageway. Southend borough council sided with the 16 and decided that cutting congestion is worth the sacrifice of its heritage and the park, given to the town by a local benefactor in the 1900s. Local protesters, still fighting the proposals, "reclaimed" the Saxon burial site by removing the fencing last week while awaiting the East of England regional assembly's decision on funding.

The pressure's off

The government's refusal to implement its own building regulations, designed to prevent carbon dioxide emissions from buildings, homes, offices and factories, continues to enrage all those involved - except, of course, the builders who can construct cheap and leaky buildings without sanction. Buildings are supposed to have air pressure tests to ensure they do not leak heat, but only a handful of machines are available for the whole country. John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, who claims to be building sustainable developments, is being petitioned but so far is silent.

Rosy outlook

Meanwhile, the government's 68 sustainable development indicators published last week (using red, amber or green indicators) showed as many reds as greens. Among the reds was a staggering plus 90% for emissions for aviation fuel used in the UK since 1990.

Glitterati gathering

The Diamonds exhibition opening at London's Natural History Museum today will probably have more celebrities outside than enjoying the show inside. Supermodels and film stars who might otherwise have been seen wearing DeBeers products have declined to do so in the face of protests by Kalahari Bushmen. The bushmen believe the presence of diamonds is the reason they have been barred from tribal lands. The museum refused to allow them to make their point inside, but they will be picketing on the pavement for tonight's opening.

Stop the rot

Latest official figures show that 221,424 cars were dumped in England in 2003-04 - the equivalent of 607 cars abandoned a day.

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