I enjoy reading articles by people that I know (even if only slightly) - which is why I read the article in today's Telegraph written by David Hughes, who used to be editor of the Western Mail. Interestingly, the article was placed directly under a comment piece by John Redwood, who is all over the place this week. Both were discussing the failure of 'government' to deliver the needs of the nation with the necessary degree of vision.
They are both right about this of course. And the reason is the modern day suffocation of private enterprise and innovation by the deadening hand of state sponsored bureaucracy and regulation. David writes about the great engineers of the Victorian age. Well, the great engineers of the past, who built railways, canals, dams, castles, docks and our great landscaped gardens would never have made it past the planners and other statutory hurdles today. And there's me - deeply sceptical about the whole idea of the Severn Barrage. Which brings me to the only really daft line in David's article.
"Environmentalists are torn, not for the first time. They like the clean energy, but they rail against the ecological impact. They are particularly anxious about the fate of sea birds. The same concerns were raised when the Barrage was being built across Cardiff Bay. Surprise, surprise, the birds did not roll over and die - they moved on. I suspect the birds in the Estuary might show themselves to be equally adept at self-preservation."
Yes, it is possible to compensate by creating another habitat some where else - but it will be for other species of bird. This is what happened in Cardiff Bay. Neville Waters farm, many miles away, was flooded as compensation for the loss of mudflats - but for different species of bird. Sometimes the natural world is required to make the ultimate sacrifice to accommodate human desire to live more comfortably, in our increasingly unsustainable numbers. That is why the Telegraph is also reporting today on the extinction of bird species across the world. Lets not try to pretend that this human selfishness is a cost free option to the natural world.