Land-use struggles

Rob Squires/Gill Ellison robgil at
Sun Aug 18 07:36:27 EDT 1996

"In 1995, the Tinker's Bubble Trust, a group of 11 people living in tents on
their smallholding in Somerset [United Kingdom], appealed against refusal of
planning permission for their dwellings. One of their main arguments was
that they needed to live on their land to pursue their chosen method of
agriculture, which was influenced by (among other things)the philosophy of
sustainable land-use, known as permaculture.

The Inspector spent two days at a Public Enquiry in the local village hall
examining the project and listening to local opinion, and three hours
looking round the Tinker's Bubble site. His conclusions were that the Trust
did have a need to live on the land and since their dwellings caused no
visual or highways impact, he saw no reason to refuse planning permission.

However, the Inspector's decision was immediately overturned by the
Secratary of State, John Gummer [Conservative] (who had never been anywhere
near the site). The main reason he gave for refusing planning permission was
that the Bubblers were subsistence farmers, "...carrying out an experiment
in living simply on the land and deriving a subsistence living from it, a
pattern of living which is sometimes called 'permaculture'. Any benefit of
these aims to the wider economy would be negligible, since minimal
agricultural and other produce would be available." ..."

- Extract of article in British Permaculture Magazine No.12 (Summer 1996)

The article continues by explaining how Gummer is quite wrong in that
Permaculture is not subsistance agriculture, and that the Tinker's Bubble
project is compatible with sustainable development, and the objectives of
Agenda 21 which can be defined as "... not consuming more than one's share
of the world's resources...". Furthermore, there is ample evidence to prove
that Tinkers Bubble is not, in fact practicing subsistence agriculture at
all, since last Autumn, the Trust exported a cash crop of some 15 tonnes of
apples to the local cider industry.  Gummer has set a precedent in British
planning law (excluding Scotland) which may have serious ramifications for
future British permaculturists seeking planning permission for integrated
rural land-use.

In a letter to the British Secretary of State, Bill Mollison wrote, "...As
originator of the term permaculture, I would like to make it clear that the
word Permaculture is a copyright term, and it's definition is not available
for re-interpretation by the High Court or anyone else... Permaculture ...
is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive
ecosystems, which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural
For more information on the original article published in the British
Permaculture Magazine, contact Tim and Maddy Harland
<permaculture at>. The magazine is published by Permanent
Publications who have a Web Site at

This rescent decision by our gloriously mistaken leader, and steward of the
environment, John Gummer bares serious implications for the permaculture
movement in the UK. Permaculture is practised worldwide by over 20,000
graduates of design courses. No matter which part of the planet you inhabit,
please unite with British brothers and sisters in this global movement, and
support our course by writing to John Gummer, stating that he is wrong, and
that you feel very concerned about the effect this could have, and why you
feel permaculture is so important.

Send your letters to:

Rt Hon John Gummer MP,
Secretary of State for the Environment,
Houses of Parliment, 
London. U.K.

Unfortunately, an E:mail address is not available.

Please pass on this post wherever you feel it may be helpful.

Yours, in solidarity,

Rob Squires  
 Rob Squires of CTCSystems |
 Communitarianist          | E:mail - robgil at
 ========================= + ===========================================
 Gill Ellison              |
 Age Concern - St.Helens   | E:mail -robgil at

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