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In denial: the myth of ‘green Cornwall’

In denial: the myth of ‘green Cornwall’

I picked up a booklet the other day. All about the ‘bold, innovative and exciting’ eco-town in the clay country. Odd, I thought it was just a scam to build more houses and put money in the pockets of overseas developers. How wrong could I be. No, this is apparently a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to ‘make a difference’.

The booklet is a fine example of post-modern gibberish, complete with its own summary in quaint medieval revived Cornish to add to its dizzying unreality. It’s all ‘vision’, ‘transformational’, ‘vibrant’ and a ‘catalyst for behaviour change’. But at the heart is a rotten lie and a series of unaddressed questions. Like

* why is the eco-town thus described when the booklet admits it ‘adopts a polycentric approach across five sites’ (in plain English it’s not a town)?
* where are the residents coming from?
* how will they make 50% of their trips from the clay country by ‘non-car means’ and how will this be ensured? Compulsory bus journeys? Free bikes for the downhill journeys and a ski-lift to come home?
* since when has a marina (an essential part of the eco-town at Par) been ‘green’?
* how much is Orascom Developments, the developers, set to make from this?

Of course this isn’t just ‘change’. It’s ‘stepped change’. Which is better than change. Obviously.

Cornwall Council live in a dream world where proclaiming Cornwall ‘is the green penininsular [sic] of the South West’ replaces reality. It’s a never-never land of wishful thinking, unsubstantiated rosy claims and gallons of greenwash.

A green peninsula?? Let’s just check the most recent figures for CO2 emissions by local authority, which date from 2007. At that time the per capita emissions in Cornwall were 7.5 kt of CO2 a year. But there must be some mistake! In Devon per capita emissions were running at 7.1. In Bristol they were 5.6, in Exeter 5.5, in Torbay 5.0. So that must mean that Devon and Bristol are really green.

Maybe CO2 emissions are decreasing faster in Cornwall. Well, not quite. From 2005 to 2007 CO2 emissions declined by 2.9% in Cornwall. But they fell much faster in Devon – by 5.0%. But then, in postmodern times who cares? Say it loud and say it often and any idiotic rubbish can become the truth.