Is NIMBY a derogative term?

There has been a trail of emails on the Guildford Dragon ( where correspondents have taken issue with the term NIMBY.

I have no particular concern with the term NIMBY (‘not in my back yard’) and nor do I have any particular beef against people who staunchly protect their back yards – it should be a sign that people care enough about their own environment to get energised about development proposals that affect them.

There is a difficulty with NIMBYism where there is a development of national, regional or even Borough-wide importance. This should not prevent (no insult intended) NIMBYs seeking to have that significant development put elsewhere, but it should be noted that there will be plenty of people elsewhere (who don’t live in the micro-environment) who will press for the significant development to happen whether there or elsewhere.

I am as capable of being a NIMBY as the next person and I like to think I am objective in my NIMBYism. I can wear the badge with some pride but I do always try to point out that I am a near resident and that my intervention is knowledgeable of both my area and the proposal itself.

Dedicated NIMYism may take a huge amount of effort investigating other potential solutions elsewhere to demonstrate how much better they would be. So NIMBYism is not necessarily a hyper-local introverted attitude.

It goes without saying that often NIMBYs are disappointed in major developments because we have spent so much energy fighting against the principle that when we lose (as sometimes we do) we have had little or no say in what the end development is actually like. This is the real conundrum – how do we say “No, Bu if it happens it should be like this…” without undermining our core arguments?

Incidentally, I would rather be a NIMBY than a BANANA (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything/anybody).


Julian Lyon (8th January 2017)