Last week saw a violent confrontation between gypsies/travellers and the police as the former were evicted from an illegal camp site at Dale Farm, Essex. There is no doubt in my mind that the decision to evict the gypsies from the site was the correct one under the terms of British law and land use planning law in particular. There is, however, equally no doubt in my mind that UK law in this regard is oppressive and provides a prime illustration of what happens when private property rights are over-ridden in the name of third party ‘community interests’.
As I understand it, the Dale Farm residents bought the property from whence they were evicted, but they acted illegally in erecting a campsite which had not been granted planning permission. As noted in previous posts on this site development rights in the UK are nationalised – if you own a piece of land you have no right to develop it as such – merely a right to request permission to do so from a local government planning authority which purports to represent ‘the community’. As a consequence, all land use decisions are fundamentally politicised and this typically results in the triumph of local ‘nimbyism’.
Read the rest of the article on the Pileus blog.
Dr Mark Pennington is the author of Robust Political Economy: Classical Liberalism and the Future of Public Policy.