Has the Sergeant Pepper of legislation already been passed?

Submitted by CathHassell on Wed, 05/06/2015 - 09:12

Rob Borruso

Two things have been vexing me quite a lot recently. Firstly, the resistance to actually getting things done caused by all the legislation I (we) have to deal with these days. And, secondly, ever since the radio broke in my digger, which of 300+ albums stored on my phone to play next.

I'll tackle the more important issue first. I've various apps on my phone that claim, after I make an initial choice, to be able to compile play-lists for me. Aside from the fact the apps don't know whether I'm path smoothing (Leige & Leaf) or stump pulling (Paranoid) they keep trying to push me toward 'latest releases'. The problem is, as many people of my age have concluded, that most of the good music has already been made, and musicians have now pretty much run out of great riffs to discover.

A thought then occurred, maybe the same is true of legislation. What is the Wish you were here (actually better than Dark side of the moon) versus Ghost Stories (or Endless River for that matter) of legislation.

Well apart from the London building act of 1667 I'm going to go for the 1984 Building Act, ( The Smiths) as an example of worthwhile legislation, for energy efficiency at least. For the first time there was an acceptance that buildings had a key role to play in reducing energy consumption and the best way to do that was by having a standard set of rules. While not actually delivering particularly big improvements at the time, everything that has followed has been as a result of this act. I'm not going to critique 2002 vs 2006 Part L here but without the 'good' idea of a standard set of national rules the ramp up this century toward truly better efficiency standards could have never happened.

As for Midnight Memories, currently I'm having to deal with the introduction of a new piece of planning legislation that came in last year, namely that all new forestry roads require planning permission. On the face of it, it is a logical extension of existing rules to protect the countryside. But the thing is that no-one builds forestry roads for speculative development – they are built through plantations to allow cost effective mechanised harvesting. The route these roads will take is dictated by ground conditions therefore lines on a planning application are largely irrelevant. I know of one instance where the agreed route was ignored and the authorities did nothing. And anyway, there is no practical benefit to refusal as without the ability to harvest economically a plantation would simply be abandoned and by any measure that would be more of a blot on the landscape than any road.

My point is, that as time goes by, more and more of the real problems in the building industry and the wider world have rules in place to tackle them and we are running out of bad things for legislation to be passed to prevent. Therefore, one would think that the rate of new legislation should be slowing but the opposite is true. New rules are coming thick and fast with every new project, so much so that even the rule makers themselves are questioning the process. Worst still the levels of enforcement are in my opinion declining, which is fine for my forestry road, but for important stuff like the readings on the gas meter actually matching the numbers on the EPC it is not so good.

So maybe we should adopt a less is more attitude to further legislation asking the questions, ‘Is there really a problem? Would the new rules actually be enforceable? And do the likely benefits really justify the effort of implementing them?’ Or, to put it another way, sometimes it’s just better to revisit Autobahn than try and get to grips with The Mix.

The musical opinions expressed here are personal and in no way a reflection of Green Register Policy.