LJN Blog Posts

The Porsche Cayennes of Larissa


One of the funnier stories to come out of the fiasco that is the Greek economy has emerged in the Athens News. Apparently a couple of years ago there were more Porsche Cayennes in the country than people declaring tax on earnings of more than 50,000 Euros. The diligent and talented citizens of the farming city of Larissa (pop. 25,000), have more Porsche Cayennes per head of population than London and New York. I can't imagine a clearer illustration of why there's as much chance of the Greeks returning to the fold of the fiscally responsible as my wife.

What's odd about this is that no Greek I have heard has made any mention of this kind of behaviour as being an issue. And how do the Germans (who are after all selling them all this kit) square the reality with the forlorn hope they won't default? It's left to people like Michael Lewis to point out that the average employee in the terminally knackered Greek railway system takes home 65,000 Euros a year. In the meantime, the feisty electorate blame bankers, markets, the Eurozone, the system, politicians, St. Paul's, global warming...

I increasingly wonder at our own sense of reality here in the UK. Society now seems so fragmented it is increasingly difficult to piece it all together - and the earnest current arguments about the City are just a small symptom of that. For example, we're currently talking to the planners about building a new house. There are issues which need to be discussed about the proposed design and landscaping. The planners seem to be very pleasant, professional people, but unfortunately, the process they are working inside now seems incomprehensible, time consuming and expensive, and guaranteed to alienate the reasonable applicant. Perhaps it should be no surprise that there are folk like our maniac ex-neighbour around, who built a house (!) in his yard without planning permission at all.

I'm not sure we haven't come to this kind of pass with conservation. I've been really disappointed by the lack of take up for the ecological services we offer; why don't landowners want ecologists on their land to recommend improvements to it? Is it price? Lack of interest? No; they don't want a conservationist on their land for the same reason homeowners wouldn't ask a planner to recommend improvements to their house. They're worried about what they might find or what they might not find. There might be rules and regulations they're not complying with or things they're doing wrong, or new guidelines to follow they weren't aware of.
Like the planners, the conservation lobby, backed as it is by the same kind of clunky heavy duty legislation, is often percieved as being an obstructive, expensive and silly extension of bureaucracy. The fact that both planners and conservationists perform a valuable economic and social function passes most people by. And conservationists are either Bill Oddie nice or they get so ANGRY they seem difficult to deal with; they are angry with Defra, farmers, landowners, gamekeepers, developers, lack of money, Jeremy Clarkson, 5th November... Because they're passionate they also get excited about - well - stuff most people find laughable or at best incomprehensible. A recent example from Facebook, without an apparent trace of irony:
Today...finally... I have seen some Tree Bees (b. hypnorum)!!!!! Life doesn't get much better than this :)
For all the work of folk like the Sainted David Attenborough (who described what we're doing as "pioneering" - what's not to like!), promoting biodiversity is to the mainstream here what paying taxes is to the mainstream in Greece. Why is it so difficult to persuade the 8.4 million watchers of the Frozen Planet, or the 41% of the population RHS research says "enjoy gardening", to grow some native flowers in their back garden? The knack for folk like us - and we'd better get it right or we'll be out of business - is to get away from the Conservation world with a capital C. It's not the RSPB membership we have to reach out to, it's the other 60 million people in the UK. There's no point promoting our or our partner charities' core values at Conservation shows; we have to be at Chelsea (and in the main bit, not the "Environment Zone") and at events like Ecobuild and the Game Fair.

On a similar theme, we're working on a project with the Wildlife Trusts Biodiversity Benchmark, which is reaching out to businesses and landowners with a great product of real ecological AND commercial value. There's no point berating businesses about what they're doing wrong; there has to be a commerical incentive for doing it right, which is why this initiative is so sensible. Promoting biodiversity, like paying taxes or planning control, has a real economic and social output - but it doesn't take a marketing genius to realize you're never going to sell it that way. You'll never persuade the Greeks to give up their Cayennes and start to pay taxes on the basis that it's for the common good. It has to become the social norm.

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Andy Sheridan replied to Andy Sheridan's discussion Tricky customer
"Will root out the other photo.
In answer to your questions though....
It’s just one area. Front left of gravel. Approx 1 metre on from blocks and a metre from house.
Surface run off from gated area is towards area in question. Behind gates is a conc…"
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David Benson replied to Andy Sheridan's discussion Tricky customer
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Andy Sheridan replied to Andy Sheridan's discussion Tricky customer
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Andrew Betteridge replied to Andy Sheridan's discussion Tricky customer
"Is that a recent picture or from when the work was first completed?
I assumed there would be signs of movement.
 Andy "
3 hours ago
Andy Sheridan replied to Andy Sheridan's discussion Tricky customer
""
4 hours ago
Andy Sheridan replied to Andy Sheridan's discussion Tricky customer
"Hi Andy,
that would seem to be the problem.
I’ve attached a photo of the area in question. We put the gravel drive, block paved threshold and gates in place. The (steeper) tarmac section was already in place. 
The nearest part of the gravel section…"
4 hours ago
Andrew Betteridge replied to Andy Sheridan's discussion Tricky customer
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Andrew Betteridge replied to Andy Sheridan's discussion Tricky customer
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Is there are problem with clay heave? Is the clay pushing the membrane up through the stone?
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5 hours ago
Andy Sheridan posted a discussion
Hi all,I’m new on here. Read through some of the threads and have to say I’m very impressed by the advice and knowledge which is being shared.So, perhaps some of you might be able help me put my mind at ease.I have a small company based in Leamingto…
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adrian Stoute is now a member of Hard Landscaping Group
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Scott H replied to David Benson's discussion Bakker,s
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Trevor Stephens posted a discussion
Hi all,One of my clients has a large pond that they now wish to fill in for safety due to new baby and the potential for disaster.They are happy to have it converted into a plant bed, however the initial priority is water out and then filled with th…
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David Benson posted a discussion
i have herd on the grape vine that Bakker of spalding have gon bust for £33M, any body else herd anything my mum is a bit concernd as she has some outstanding plants that are paid for and cannot contact them tried three differant tel no 
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Tricky customer

Hi all, I’m new on here. Read through some of the threads and have to say I’m very impressed by the advice and knowledge which is being shared. So, perhaps some of you might be able help me put my mind at ease. I have a small company based in…

Read more…
8 Replies · Reply by Andy Sheridan 2 hours ago

Bakker,s

i have herd on the grape vine that Bakker of spalding have gon bust for £33M, any body else herd anything my mum is a bit concernd as she has some outstanding plants that are paid for and cannot contact them tried three differant tel no 

Read more…
2 Replies · Reply by Scott H 7 hours ago