Last year’s loss of the Edgar Street lime trees left many people in Hereford feeling angry and disappointed. The trees were removed by the scheming and collusion of Herefordshire Council and the Environmental Agency. In opposition to their plans was a small but determined campaign group, which we at the Heckler were initially supportive of.
Whether this road widening plan has reduced congestion or will speed up entry to the soon-to-open shopping complex is open to debate. But there is no doubt that any traffic-management measures on Edgar Street are welcomed by those people who have to drive along there on a daily basis.
The passionate campaign that opposed the felling was driven by environmental concerns about the reduction of green space in Hereford, and it’s hard to argue with that—it seems obvious that green spaces should be an essential part of any city. But do these views take into account the realities of living in the world as it is today?
We live in a world with an ever-increasing population and with it comes the need to build more houses, roads and other infrastructure projects like high-speed rail links. No matter how efficiently we organise our communities a certain level of growth is inevitable and necessary. But we need to ensure that this growth is sustainable.
Another driving factor that comes at odds with environmentalism is economic growth. Many campaigners across the globe make the link between capitalism, growth and environmental destruction and promote a revolutionary, anti-capitalist form of ecology as a result. Unfortunately some of the environmentalists in Britain and other countries remain stuck in a green ghetto, seeing things in black and white terms of beautiful planet v. destructive humans. It is a ghetto that is as isolated as it is unresponsive to modern needs.
If we really want to challenge the destruction of the world around us we need to move on from NIMBYism, signing petitions or voting for ‘sympathetic’ political parties and instead think about real, radical change, both social and personal. Otherwise it’ll be the same faces holding hands and singing songs when the bypass ploughs through the Lugg flats in a few years.