The importance of being NIMBY

The term NIMBY (“Not In My Back Yard”) usually has poor connotations of a person or a group complaining about a development that will effect them and shouldn’t proceed. The negative view usually arises from a suspician that the complainant only decries the development because of its personal effect, and wouldn’t care about it otherwise.

But the NIMBY is something that should be promoted, not admonished. Everyone should consider being a NIMBY themselves.

The reason?

Any medium and large scale development will have an adverse effect, whether it be on the community, the amenity and character of the area and/or the natural environment of the effected site and it’s surrounds.

Local Councils, in general, will look at the economic effects of these developments when a permit is sought. Although there are policies and guidelines causing Councils to consider non-economic effects, in a market based, GDP driven, financially focused world, it is not hard to imagine that economic considerations will take precedence.

It is through the work of those people and organisations concerned about the adverse effects of a development that force the environmental impact to take greater importance in the decision making processes of the CouncilĀ and, hopefully, see inappropriate development stopped, either by the Council or by the relevant tribunal. Alternatively, greater controls or restrictions placed on the development than otherwise would have been imposed may help to protect what may have been otherwise vulnerable to destruction.

If we are to force government agencies at all levels to give greater weight to environmental issues such as habitat destruction, conservation of biodiversity and climate change, active NIMBY’s need to be everywhere.

Cormac Cullinan, an environmental lawyer, author and commentator, in discussing Wild Law jurisprudence, states:

“I have little doubt that if every person tried to heal just one tiny area of degraded and abused land in a way that strengthened their personal relationship with it, Earth governance and justice would soon flourish”.

An in depth analysis of Cullinan’s reference to Earth governance and Wild Law is beyond this particular post, but, briefly, refers to a political and societal system where the way we govern ourselves is in line with, and not paramount to, the methods and rules with which the universe and the earth governs itself and all it’s component, competing and complimentary parts.

Local people and local groups have the greatest knowledge and connection to the environment at the location of a proposed development. These voices will have the most credence when the true effects of a development need to be known. And if every community has its NIMBY individuals and NIMBY groups, very soon a development in any part of a country, a continent and, maybe one day, the world, will not be spared of a critical review of the cost of the development on the local and global environment as against the gain to be had by the developer or any other person that may benefit from the development going ahead.

For anyone who wishes to take action, you are not alone in your fight. In Australia, the Australian Network of Environmental Defender’s Offices (“the ANEDO”) provide information and assistance in every state and territory regarding planning and environment controls, and I’m sure there are similar organisations internationally. A link to the ANEDO is in my blog roll.

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