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Get rid of second homes for sustainability

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Martin Pawley's (hopefully tongue-in-cheek) article on Green Belt development last week (AJ 22.7.04) ought certainly to have alerted us to the danger of allowing market forces to dictate.

It seems that we are nothing if not predictable in our knee-jerk reaction to all forms of 'crises' - more often than not passing phases.

Setting aside the rhetoric associated with such crises, there are serious issues to be discussed - not least the sustainability of constructing yet more buildings on yet more countryside, or even of densifying our already overcrowded cities.

Ideally, a more lateral approach is required to deflect such crises. In the past few years we have seen a substantial increase in the numbers of families owning second or third homes. Surely it is socially unacceptable and unethical for some to have two or three homes when others have none? Would it not be more fitting for families with two or more homes to be heavily taxed on their properties unless they were available for rent? This would encourage such people to sell, thus lowering prices and making property more affordable and available to others lower down the property ladder.

We are all outliving ourselves and the planet. Others have in the past advocated that each of us should have an environmental profile. Linking this to our tax system may be an opportune way for government to encourage a more responsible, socially inclusive and environmentally aware lifestyle - or is that asking too much of an establishment too dependent upon our global consumeristic lifestyle to be serious about sustainability and social inclusivity? They probably all have three homes themselves.

Gareth Dobson, Dobson : Owen, Gwynedd, Wales

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