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)

Author: GuildfordPlan

GuildfordPlan is a 'whiteboard' set up by Julian Lyon to think out loud as part of the process of preparing the Guildford Society representations to the various Local Plan Consultations

One thought on “Is NIMBY a derogative term?”

  1. As one of the first people being accused – and apologised to by Consortium developments Barrister at the Foxley Woods Appeal in Fleet Hampshire in the late 1980’s, It was worked up as an insult by Consortium development against people who were against the principle of five new villages / Towns around the outskirts of London. The modern equivalent is being ‘accused’ of being a remoaner or Brexiter. with the implication the person is ill advised on their decision making processes. Noting Nick Ridley MP and minister for the Environment who’s effigy was burnt in a field just outside Eversley Hampshire resulting in him loosing his job.

    So while it has become oft used by those who cannot see the lack of infrastructure or the destruction of an area as justified reasons to object to a proposed housing or factories – it remains and insulting Acronym which we could well do without when rationally discussing the future of our grand children word

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