This is deeply alarming: just where are we going to put all these people if we are not to concrete and tarmac over our entire nation? This would involve us going from an already crowded population density of 247/Km2 to one of 370/Km2 bringing us up to the levels of such as the present-day Netherlands.
The Dutch are already feeling the strain on their small nation and are looking at a renewal of the great land reclamation schemes that saw the Zuiderzee, that great inlet of the North Sea into the heart of the Netherlands, closed off between 1916 and 1932by the Afsluitdijk, thus converting it into a fresh-water lake called the Ijsselmeer. This in turn allowed the creation of two huge polders that today make up the Dutch province of Flevoland with a population of 370,000.
Today thoughts of reclamation are returning as Jan Peter Balkenende, the somewhat owlish and boyish Dutch Prime Minister, has asked the Innovation Platform to consider the building of a new Polder off the coast of the The Netherlands which would be the size of the Isle of Wight (see here and here)
Which brings me to thought: why don’t we look at a really radical plan to build a vast polder out into the North Sea that might increase the land area of England by up to 40%. This might sound like a quite fantastic and unfeasible idea, but is it? After all we know that the North Sea is not, for most of its width across to The Netherlands, too deep. After all, until about 8000 years ago this was a land bridge to what is now mainland Europe, inhabited by hunter-gatherer peoples and supporting herds of extinct mammals such as the mammoth.
Some will doubtless say that this would be an engineering project beyond our technical capabilities and pockets. One does not doubt but that it would be an enormous engineering and financial challenge, but if we can build the likes of the Channel Tunnel or a Suez Canal, if the Dutch can build land reclamation projects such as those in Dubai or the new polder they are now contemplating, why should we not contemplate a project of this kind for the 21st. Century?
The benefits would be enormous. Vast new agricultural lands, new villages, towns and cities for perhaps fifteen to twenty million people, new forests and lakes could be created. To seaward there would have, of course, to be adequate protection for long-term sea-level rises, but the polder’s creation would also mean the saving of our threatened East Coast communities which would now find themselves many tens of kilometres from the sea.
Jobs would be created on a vast scale over a long period. Space might be found for a new port to rival Rotterdam and an airport to replace the increasingly dysfunctional Heathrow. Those involved in its construction could be rewarded and repaid by a system of land-grants which would see them holding the new land of the Crown for, say, ninety-nine years during which time they could exploit the new lands, selling it or letting it on long and short leaseholds as the market dictated. The possibilities for such land are almost endless.
Such public money as had to be expended would have gone towards a substantial and permanent project (instead of being poured into the pockets of the forever feckless and Gender Awareness Officers) that would play a part in what one hopes would be an enormous stimulant to the economic health and growth of England and towards genuine long-term job creation.
And we would resolve the problem of our own, to use a word to inflame dreary lefties’ tempers, lebensraum without which we are going to have socio-economic problems of a scale and type which make present ones seem quite congenial.
We already have a name for it: Doggerland.
Oh well, just a thought…..