By Paul Deacon
A STRANGE feeling came over me when I heard about the plans for massive greenfield development north of Horsham.
This was a sensation I can only describe as nausea.
Seeing the aerial view and photos of the fields under threat hardly made things any better.
The thought of all this greenery being replaced by an industrial estate, supermarket, car parks, masses of housing and still more roads simply makes me sick.
One of the things that disturbs me is the deep lack of democracy that is revealed by projects of this kind.
I know I am not the only person to object to the prospect of yet another piece of our countryside being covered in concrete and Tarmac.
There will surely be protests aplenty at the latest Blitzkrieg being waged on poor old Sussex by the property development industry.
And if a referendum were held among Horsham people, asking them whether or not they were in favour, I suspect the scheme would receive a resounding thumbs-down.
But that isn’t how things work. There will be no vote. And the district councillors who pass sentence on the fields of north Horsham will not have been elected on a manifesto pledge of bulldozing the countryside, although many of them will have known about the plans for some time.
Responsibility will be displaced elsewhere - to the requirements of the centrally controlled planning system, to the need to ‘boost the economy’, to the apparently unassailable necessity of promoting ‘economic growth’.
We, as ordinary members of the public, are never asked whether we accept these golden rules that dictate the whole way our society is heading.
We are supposed to take it as a holy truth that a ‘special opportunity’ for an American property business is also good news for us and our future.
We are supposed to applaud the idea of jobs being ‘created’, of a ‘flagship’ corporate HQ being built on what is now a green lung full of wildlife.
We are supposed to sit back and simply watch as meadows, trees, footpaths and breathing space are stolen away from us by the men from the City.
I for one find it impossible to sign up to the consensus that allows this to happen.
Where will it all end? The logic of this mindset is that more and more land must be destroyed (the polite term is ‘developed’) on a permanently ongoing basis.
Logically, the brakes can never go on, otherwise the ‘economy’ suffers. Logically, every last blade of grass will have to be ripped up to feed this cancerous expansion.
Logically, all life on the planet will be sacrificed to the gods of profit and ‘progress’.
Surely it is about time that we had a proper rethink about all of this?
We need to face up to the fact that what is good for the ‘economy’ is not necessarily a good thing in itself.
War is great for the ‘economy’, for instance. Building a concentration camp at Auschwitz was no doubt a positive move, seen through the same insane financial filter.
What do we really want for our children and grandchildren?
A future of endless new supermarkets, factory units and motorways or fresh air, clean water and healthy, happy lives?
Do we really want Sussex to turn into a featureless conurbation like some hideous suburb of Los Angeles or Tokyo?
Or do we say that we value the preservation of its essence more than we value the opportunity for businesses to make money, for the machineries of pollution and destruction to keep turning until the bitter end?
And if we do want to tell them ‘enough is enough’, how can we actually make them listen?