Always think of the land!

It’s somewhat ironic that a few weeks after the Labour Party said it was dropping its policy to renationalise water utilities the idea is gaining more currency in public debate. On Today this morning, at around 08:23,  Baroness Young, a Labour peer, was asked about the idea and sounded somewhat sceptical and on PM this afternoon, at around 17:35, the Oxford economist Dieter Helm, whose politics, I might guess, are a little to the right of Barbara’s, was sounding slightly more sympathetic to the idea.

Now both of these people know more about many things than I do, and certainly about the water industry, and I respect both of them highly as intellects and wise folk, so my contribution to this debate is a slightly sideways look.  I am keen on renationalising the water utilities because of the land they own and manage – much of it in the uplands. Land ownership gives you power, and owning chunks of upland, particularly in National Parks and AONBs would be a great power to have for many reasons. It would allow faster movement to protect blanket bogs and other peatlands from burning (with climate change, water quality and flood risk benefits). It would allow rewilding to take place. It would allow tree planting, if that’s the way you want to do it rather than natural regeneration, to take place too. It would create havens for persecuted birds of prey to survive (that isn’t my major motivation but today is the Inglorious 12th after all) alongside the grouse moors where they are killed.  I bet you can think of other benefits too.  Upland ecological regeneration could leap forward at a pace.

So, in any discussions about renationalising water utilities don’t just focus on the supply of water – think too of the land. Always think of the land.

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4 Replies to “Always think of the land!”

  1. Tens of thousands of people in Somerset regret that Baroness Young’s intellect and wisdom lacks the bit about water’s inability to flow uphill without assistance

  2. There’s a much bigger issue here which labour ought to be promoting: effective monopolies of which water is one and railways another simply don’t work in the private sector and I suspect you’ll struggle to find any but the most right wing economists to support the idea that they do. Both these Conservative privatisations have failed demonstrably and quite spectacularly.

  3. Water, Rail, the Post Office, gas and electricity have all failed us in private hands and need to be nationalised ASAP, preferably without compensation.

    1. You mean like the Passport Office, DVLA and NHS. All three need taking by the scruff of the neck and I have personal experience of every one. The first two are lazy and incompetent and the NHS is overburdened by admin (one pen-pusher for every medic). Solutions on a postcard please!

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