Nimbys are not selfish. We’re just trying to stop the destruction of nature | Ros Coward

Nimbys are not selfish. We’re just trying to stop the destruction of nature | Ros Coward

Developers use this laden word when they want to obliterate wildlife and its habitats, to demonise anyone who objects

If there’s one word in the English language that I’d like to get rid of, it’s nimby. The acronym – for “not in my back yard” – is often used by developers and politicians to deride local protesters who stand up to housebuilding. “Nimbys”, they claim, are self-interested, live in nice houses, in nice places and want to deny these privileges to newcomers. In my opinion, the word is a spectacular example of how language can stand reality on its head: developers are not champions of the people and those who oppose them are certainly not selfish.

The postmortem of the Chesham and Amersham byelection, where many voters, upset at environmentally destructive local projects, voted for the Liberal Democrats, brought accusations of nimbyism out in force. The Daily Telegraph declared the win “a victory for nimbys”, adding that it was “no reason to give up on planning reform” – reforms which, needless to say, look set to confer most benefit on Tory-donor housebuilders. Even sympathetic commentators couldn’t resist the cliche: the “voters may possibly be nimbys”, said Polly Toynbee, “but that doesn’t make them wrong on this”.

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