Barry Cundill opened by outlining problems of diminishing space both on our road network for the traveller and in the countryside because of the roads programme.
lt was questioned whether building more roads was the right way forward although certain by-passes to relieve chronic congestion in urban areas are socially desirable. The demands on the environment might be too great if an ambitious new network was aimed for: car ownership is due to double before we are far into the next century and it was felt that a sea-change in government policies was necessary.
lf trends continued then exhaust emissions would become chronic despite new regulations. For social reasons families are moving into the countryside. Lax planning regulations mean that green field building sites still thrive and the builders will offer to take your old house off your hands thus further depressing the housing market. lt was a vicious circle which should be broken by builders only being allowed to construct quality flats for sale or rent within the existing urban areas, he felt.
One member thought that efficient electric cars would be a common sight within the next decade which would reduce pollution. Another thought increasing fuel tax would help to get people more interested in public transport but it was difficult to imagine a shift in official thinking with the railways being run down or sold off and DHB's (Disgusting Human Beings) being in the Junior Transport Minister's vocabulary.
One member felt 'something was in the wind' with the pressure groups being actively supported over the question of animal exports by middle class types and that current officialdom could be 'on the run' over such matters. There followed a lively digression which covered strange territory.
lt was generally thought that power generation should continue using diverse methods as, though we have plenty of fossil fuel, it had wreaked havoc with the forests of Scandinavia over the years. One member thought the presence of wind turbines on bleak landscapes should be tolerated to some extent as it was a clean method of generation. lt was thought that the problems associated with decommissioning nuclear power stations would be phenomenal but this was questioned as possibly being exaggerated by another member.
Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful