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Something Special About This Place . . .

Sunday 14th September, yet another sunny day emerging from another misty morning, and the garden having a late warm flourish (or maybe the first of the late flourishes, who knows with the weather these days). Bounteous garden foraging this year, plums in jars, a kilo of plums soaking in whisky, stewed plums with everything, and with the dregs Peter made several pots of slightly sticky jam. Masses of pears, still on the tree, and masses of August tomatoes, regrettably enjoyed mostly by the slugs. Another refulgent Super Full Moon last week, rather denting the excitement, but a few nights after TTIP, in a clear sky in the early hours, I saw Orion sneaking into the landing window. The last of summer can't last forever now.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Well, it was indeed a hard sell on the London Road. Just try saying all that, before your target has vanished beyond the 99p store. But I think I've got a handle on the problem now (NB there's another of these agreements sneaking around in secret, called CETA, with the same toxic issues), and the problem is something called the Investor/State Dispute Settlement clause. Devised to protect companies whose assets have been appropriated or destroyed by some rogue state's latest revolutionary government, the ISDS clause allows an injured company to bypass the laws of the State where the injury has occurred, and take their case to a 'neutral' arbitration panel. The panel is neutral in the sense that when assessing liability, it has no interest in right,wrong, legality or the public good: the only question this panel asks is whether the Investor has suffered financially through the actions of the State.

Oh my! cry all the financial and business pages! Why is anybody making a fuss??? How harmless can you get! What could possibly go wrong? What sillies the general public are!

If the EU decides that the evidence is overwhelming (which is d**n well is), and ban the pesticides that are destroying the pollinators, the birds, and (I bet!) the insectivorous wildlife of all kinds, the SIDS clause enshrines the right of Syngenta and Bayer to sue the respective governments for reducing their profits.

If a Labour government decides to roll back the privatisation of the NHS, and tighten up drug procurement, the pharmaceutical giants have and extra-legal right sue the UK government for reducing their profits.

This would never happen? What, you mean the lawyers won't leap on this feast with cries of joy, billions of dollars sparkling in their eyes? You mean the corporations won't just have to mention SIDS, to have a government cave in at once? It's happening already. Read all about it here.

The next EU day of action is on 11th October.

The irony is an actual rogue state would be totally unimpressed.

My Fracking News

. . . The Fernhurst decision: is not exactly making the front pages. I got my ticket for the Planning Meeting, and went to Midhurst last Thursday (took a photo of H.G.Well's blue plaque, as Midhurst Grammar is right next door). The planning officer had advised that Celtique Energie's application, to do a little bit of exploratory drilling in the South Downs National Park, should be refused. A succession of eloquent locals spoke in favour of the refusal. Celtique Energie's spokeswoman made a statement, (featuring the rather cheeky suggestion that since 83% of visitors are car users, the SDNP should be all in favour of having the park fracked-out), A Celtique Eenergie consultant also spoke in support. The committee 'debated' their decision: or rather, a succession of committee members spoke passionately about their love for this tranquil, untouched, beautiful and secret place, hidden in the depths of the Milland Basin. The decision to refuse was unanimous.

Mr Geoff Davies is struck all of a heap! He can't understand why he's been turned down, what's going on with all this emotional, subjective rubbish about beauty and tranquillity, precious treasures of landscape character and food for the soul? I wonder about Mr Davies. Is he quite on the ball? Who did he think was running the South Downs National Park? He gets passionate and emotional enough about money-making. You'd think he'd understand. Read his response here.

How did I get to the meeting? Public transport, of course. How could I do anything else (hm, learn to ride a bike properly, I suppose). Obviously, If the SDNP is serious (and I think they are) about reducing car use, they need a lot more buses, a least in summer and at weekends. But I did wonder, as I crossed the road to my bus stop, how many of the other passionate opposers of the fracking industry, who had packed the hall, had made the connection, and left their cars at home?

The Fernhurst decision is a huge precedent. The first National Park application, and the people said no. The people said, if we're going to frack at all, obviously we Frack the National Parks Last. Not first. No wonder this story didn't last long on the BBC. And that makes two. But the fracking industry will be back.

And Finally . . .

The Grasshopper's Child: Just a brief note to say the eversion of my new book is now available. Print copies to follow soon, more on this later & if anybody would like a pdf for review purposes, just let me know.


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