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Slow-worms and the thwarting of job creation

Slow-worms (lizards which look like snakes) are not an endangered species. You don't see them much as they tend to keep hidden away but there are quite a lot of them in our country.

Confessions of a Eurosceptic, the memoirs of the former Conservative minister, David Heathcoat-Amory, reveal that the creatures proved problematic for him after he become chairman of London & Devonshire Trust, a property and housebuilding company. (As an aside he says "the outside interests of backbench MPs had become steadily more regulated and disapproved of, but they should have been encouraged.") 

He says:

Until one has been on the receiving end of stupid, job destroying regulations, it is all just a theory. When a planning officer delayed one of our industrial developments for six months because of some slow-worms discovered near the site, I wished he could have been on one of the visits I had just made to China, Japan and Korea with the Foreign Affairs Committee to see what we were up against. The real question was not whether one European country had different rules to another, but whether Europe as a whole was competitive in the wider world.

We don't have the details of what happened to the slow-worms or the industrial development. But what really strikes me is that it is not only a question of the choice between slow-worms and job creation. It is also the dithering for months before making that choice.

I hope the Government's streamlining of the planning rules will help. There is no justification for decisions which take days or weeks in other countries, taking months here.


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