Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!

…. and while you’re at it, beware Environment Secretary Owen Paterson! His latest idea (in a growing list of Government proposals to allow planning rules to be circumvented) is for developers to be allowed to build in national parks if they make up for the damage elsewhere. It’s called “biodiversity offsetting” but as Friends of the Earth have pointed out “Nature is unique and complex – not something that can be bulldozed in one place and recreated in another at the whim of a developer”

Not that Mr Paterson or Planning Minister Nick Boles are likely to listen. They plan to let farmers sell “conservation credits” to developers who need to offset the environmental damage they do elsewhere – so they’ll get lots of support for the scheme. (It’s becoming a familiar theme, giving developers what they want by oiling the wheels with local incentives!)

All of this has an additional hidden danger that Mr Paterson hasn’t mentioned. If Wimpeys destroy a wildlife meadow in Cumbria they can replace it (sort of) by creating another one in Devon, but what if theidevelopment also damages the setting of a heritage site (as may sometimes happen)? There’s no way there can be a “Heritage Offsetting Scheme” so what Mr Paterson damages will stay damaged.