Britain’s Failure To Build is Throttling Its Economy

An anonymous reader shares a report: Building in Britain is never easy, often difficult and sometimes impossible. The country has become a vetocracy, in which many people and agencies have the power to stymie any given development. The Town and Country Planning Act, passed in 1947, in effect nationalised the right to build. Decisions about whether to approve new projects are made by politicians who rely on the votes of nimbys (“Not in my back yard”), notes (“Not over there, either”) and bananas (“Build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything”). Green belts, which were designed to stop suburban sprawl, have achieved precisely that. These enormous no-build zones enjoy Pyongyangesque levels of support among voters, who picture them as rural idylls rather than the mish-mash of motorways, petrol stations, scrubland and golf courses that they are in reality. Strict environmental laws protect many creatures, especially cute ones like bats. Judges strike down government decisions if they are based on a botched process because Britain respects the rule of law.

In isolation, each part of the planning system may seem unobjectionable. But the whole thing is a disaster. Britain’s failure to build enough is most pronounced when it comes to housing. England has 434 homes per 1,000 people, whereas France has 590. Its most dynamic cities can barely expand outwards, and are frequently prevented from shooting skywards as well. But the problems extend well beyond housing. Britain has not built a reservoir since 1991 or finished a new nuclear-power station since 1995. hs2, a high-speed railway, is the first new line connecting large British cities since the 19th century. Even modest projects, such as widening the a66 road across northern England, take over a decade. The result is frustration and slower economic growth. A truly bold government could transform the planning system. A proper land-value tax would weaken the perverse incentives to keep city centres underdeveloped and encourage landlords to build or sell up. Scrapping or shrinking the green belt is a no-brainer. A rules-based system, with local authorities declaring loose zones of development and letting developers build within them, would be preferable to a discretionary system that leaves each decision in the hands of capricious politicians.

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No 10 Suspected of Being Target of NSO Spyware Attack, Boris Johnson ‘Told’

Boris Johnson has been told his Downing Street office has been targeted with “multiple” suspected infections using Pegasus, the sophisticated hacking software that can turn a phone into a remote listening device, it was claimed on Monday. The Guardian reports: A report released by Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto said the United Arab Emirates was suspected of orchestrating spyware attacks on No 10 in 2020 and 2021. Pegasus is the hacking software — or spyware — developed, marketed and licensed to governments around the world by the Israeli firm NSO Group. It has the capability to infect phones running either iOS or Android operating systems. Citizen Lab added there had also been suspected attacks on the Foreign Office over the same two years that were also associated with Pegasus operators linked to the UAE — as well as India, Cyprus and Jordan.

The researchers, considered among the world’s leading experts in detecting digital attacks, announced they had taken the rare step of notifying Whitehall of the attack as it “believes that our actions can reduce harm.” However, they were not able to identify the specific individuals within No 10 and the Foreign Office who are suspected of having been hacked. “The suspected infections relating to the FCO were associated with Pegasus operators that we link to the UAE, India, Cyprus and Jordan. The suspected infection at the UK prime minister’s office was associated with a Pegasus operator we link to the UAE.”

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