Europe’s super-rich pose a problem for UK’s coastal communities

The young children gathered around my desk yesterday on the second floor of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s new tower in London had learned about its very own “tidal wave.” The “sushi ribbon” as chief…

Europe’s super-rich pose a problem for UK’s coastal communities

The young children gathered around my desk yesterday on the second floor of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s new tower in London had learned about its very own “tidal wave.”

The “sushi ribbon” as chief scientist Chris Bedford had called it is a substance, produced in the oceans, that erupts at times of intense ocean pressure. As a consequence, this is what the UK calls the “superyacht phenomenon”: an increasing number of ultra high-net-worth individuals and their families come to England as summer retreats and have more than their share of “yachts.”

Dr. Bedford told me that this has in turn created a problem: too much demand for too little supply of water. But how are we going to solve it?

The short answer is: we’re not.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there are fewer than 30 million people in the UK. However, the number of residents has more than doubled in the last 25 years; now 65 million people call the UK home. The rise in the UK population is easily outweighed by the growth in the region’s extremely expensive property market; London alone is expected to become the wealthiest city in the world within the next 10 years.

Dr. Bedford and his team at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation want to harness the power of those who’ve become wealthy, and also hold out the hope that younger generations might learn the “driftless life” — floating up in waves as epsom salts or as high seas oysters. (So long as there’s fresh water, of course. As Cambridge University oceanographer Clive Oppenheimer points out, “You could go over seas as far as you wanted and if you couldn’t we’d give you a cauldron full of beer.”)

Most people who reside in the UK and who have moved here for vacation have parked their billion-pound superyachts in a far less attractive part of the city: the Royal Docks. They are well, kinda just there.

So what will get “young kids — with all these techniques to use — to enjoy low-energy, easy recreation outside of London and avoid the hotspots for too long,” he asks.

To create more integrated local living, Dr. Bedford believes that this is where the TRUB (The Arts and Binship Projects, which he directs) could play a role. It’s a social enterprise run by the agency with a mission to create self-sustaining ecosystems in which people can embrace the free-spirited lifestyle, learn and share skills, and learn to take care of each other. (TRUB could be used to transform wasteland into garden squares.)

From the Outside In, by Frances Godwin, on Unsplash

Dr. Bedford and his team at the foundation are talking to local school children about town planning, information technology, gardening, and technology. They hope that 20-year-olds interested in local developing areas would view these as optional treats; after all, they’ve just built an NEIA (New Towns Indicative of an Education Agenda) program in Suffolk, where a third of the area’s 1.8 million people live, and the solutions are already well developed.

Today in the House of Commons, the money allocated to the issue of inequality across the UK — roughly £20 million is going towards education — is being redirected towards urgent improvement in life skills for young people from low-income backgrounds.

And this would seem to be the time to be putting boat infrastructure in place: Europe, as well as eastern and southern North America, are experiencing unprecedented interest in purchasing up shares of British, Irish and Georgian properties to facilitate their incorporation in their newfound self-titled states.

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