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A Political Diary

Media & Comment , Planning and Ecology in Wales , December 28, 2020
A Political Diary by Media & Comment Wales lacks an authoritative writer on matters of ecology. The disaggregation of media, the sprawl of internet sources lacking in editorial or factual reliability, means that the interested reader is ill-served.

There is commentary on ecological issues but it does not in any sense enter a public forum.
“Plea for a Digital Commons” on this site, 25 October 2019, addressed this deficit of an agora, a place of common meeting.

So, six months ago in the year of pandemic, 20th June, a book was published. “#futuregen: Lessons from a Small Country” received no reviews from mainstream media. Online reviews that span the range form acclaim to condemnation have a noticeable factor. There is no voice from rural Wales, the area affected, to speak for it.

Amid the critique there appear to be certain facts. The One Planet development framework was crafted in the Senedd and intended to over-ride local government. Case studies from Carmarthenshire report that arrivals from England have used it. Over time the result will be that they realise large capital gains in the transition from non-residential use.

Similarly, reports from the north say that the Future Generations Bill, is used by lawyers for property developers to over-ride local council officers. By default these reports do not filter through to established media and cannot be confirmed or denied. So:

“We tried to prevent a building in the centre of Dolgellau being turned into a Huge Holiday Home by a Mancunian businessman. The planning application was correctly rejected by Gwynedd Council. The businessman appealed and the adjudicator at the Welsh Office found in his favour by arguing that the Future Generations Act meant that it was permitted — as economic activity generated by the Huge Holiday Home would benefit future generations”

The over-riding of local interest and democratic process is the core of the critique.

A proportion of criticism extends to the status of the author. The breaking of the Ministerial Code upon leaving office is a matter of record. She carries the title of address given to successful PhD student but does not have a doctorate. Debrett''s Etiquette: “when a well-known figure outside the academic world receives an honorary doctorate, the recipient does not generally adopt the title of ‘Doctor’, especially when he or she already has other styles or titles.”

The term “Pro-Vice Chancellor Emeritus” is a nonsense,, the term “emeritus” referring to retired professors. More serious was the claim of association with Harvard University.

So University of Wales Trinity Saint David, repeated on Wikpedia (at least on 21st July 2020):

“Jane’s intellectual distinction has been marked by appointment to the faculty of Harvard University This is believed to be the first time that a member of University of Wales Trinity Saint David has received such a prestigious accolade.”

The fact of the matter, writes the book reviewer 20th July, was that the Wikipedia entry was amended to:

“In 2017, Jane was guest faculty in the Executive Education for Sustainability Leadership programme at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health”. This is apparently “a conference run by a business organisation that is cleverly made to look up like Harvard University at first glance.

“The poster says “Learn More and Apply Here” If it was a proper accredited Harvard conference, you would apply to a website which would start… The .edu would show it was an American educational outfit.
The fact that it ends .org shows it is not an educational outfit. Anyone can register a .org domain.
It says ” Come to Harvard to Learn High Impact Sustainability Leadership”.

“It is a business organisation, which is not sponsored by Harvard University. It is trading on Harvard’s name, and it makes its money by charging the gullible 4,250 dollars (plus hotel and flight bills) to hear Jane Davidson & others talk. The only connection with Harvard University is that two Harvard University faculty members are speaking at the conference (and no doubt being paid well to do so).

“Jane Davidson has no connection whatsoever with Harvard University. She spoke in the suburb of Harvard, Massachusetts at a commercial conference. She is not a faculty member of Harvard as she repeatedly states on her web profiles. Welsh government-supported sites continue to maintain the fake credential.

The commentary continues:

“as a real medical woman doctor, M.B.B.S (London), MRCS, LRCP, FRCS (Glasgow) Postgrad Diploma in Forensic Medicine and Medical Jurisprudence, who spent a lot of time and money passing real exams and composing dissertations etc to get proper qualifications. It's quite an insult to find this apparently fraudulent woman pretending to be something she is not.”

Inevitably the claims in the book are balanced with the record in government:

“As Environment Minister she decided to ignore the local sewage pollution in my patch, Llanelli, the loss of most of our local cockle fishery and the effect of raw sewage on the many rare species in the Loughor Estuary, which do not seem to have been monitored since. It still really stinks.

“She said that she had to give in to the Taylor Wimpey’s development on Stradey Park because they threatened to take the welsh Government to court for millions in compensation if they were not allowed to break environment regs and build 355 homes on a C2 floodplain...We still regularly pour untreated sewage into the sea like a third world country.”

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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