Monthly Archives: February 2014

Front Rooms or Farmland? How can the Government balance competing property rights in an environmental crisis?

Dr Ben Mayfield examines the dilemma faced by Government in their response to the protection of land that is vulnerable to flooding. He argues that once it is posited that governments have limited resources for the protection of land, informed choices must be taken as to which land is protected. He presents some of the different methods that have been used to place a value on land. He concludes by noting that whilst land can be valued in purely economic terms, it is often the less tangible, sentimental attachments to land that cause the greatest loss when a person is deprived of his or her property.

 The Floods

The winter floods of 2013/14 have been amongst the most severe in living memory. Sustained periods of heavy rain and strong winds saturated the soil, whilst swollen rivers burst their banks and flooded a number of lowland areas in Somerset, Norfolk, the Thames Valley and elsewhere. The loss of life has been much lower than for many disasters around the world, but many land owners have suffered substantial damage to their homes and property.

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Accepting the Things We Cannot Change: Part 1, Consumption Contained

John Pearson

Researching and writing on unconventional energy sources and, in particular, the ‘tar sands’ of Alberta, Canada presents facts (both questionable and accepted) which shock and appall. However, upon consideration of the phenomenon in the broader contexts in which it undeniably resides, those of energy security, geopolitics and development to name but a few, a degree of realism about such projects is necessitated.

The abandonment of two of the most high profile examples of ‘extreme energy,’ the tar sands, and fracking in the USA and UK, is unlikely. Human reliance on hydrocarbons is undeniable and as conventional reserves dwindle, the incentive to extract unconventional sources rises correspondingly. Denying or failing to recognize our inextricable connection to them for the foreseeable future is at best remiss and, at worst, arguably dangerous. Progress towards alternatives continues to be made, but expecting developments to come to fruition and disconnect us from our reliance upon hydrocarbons entirely would be to ignore reality. Recognition is required that unconventional oil and gas extraction is inescapable in the short term. Regulation should therefore be directed at impacts of the use of hydrocarbons fuels which can be addressed in the relatively near future and may contribute towards their abandonment altogether.

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Mascots of Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

Breaking the spirit of Olympism? The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and Mega Event Human Rights Violations

Dr Amanda Cahill-Ripley

The 2014 Winter Olympics commenced in Sochi, Russia this week. However the event is not without controversy. Many people will have seen the BBC Panorama episode ‘Putin’s Games’ last week investigating alleged human rights violations connected to the hosting of the XXII Winter Olympiad. What will have been shocking to some is the hugely negative impact a mega event such as the Olympics can have on the local environment and people.  The International Olympic Committee’s binding Olympic Charter 2013 includes The Fundamental Principles of Olympism, which provide that:

‘Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.  The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.’

These are admirable principles to hold. However the reality of the preparations for these games has resulted in actions by the Russian authorities and businesses that have been far from ethical, and which are threatening to human dignity.

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Nintendo vs Modchips

Angus MacCulloch

In one of my, increasingly frequent, excursions away from competition law into the wider world of EU law I consider the impact of the the Court of Justice’s judgment in Nintendo v PC Box on the legality of videogame console ‘modchips’ under EU and copyright law.

This post first appeared at and can also be viewed at Angus MacCulloch’s Who’s Competing blog.

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Queer Theory and the Age of Consent

Dr Sarah Beresford comments upon the recent calls for a lowering of the age of consent.  Towards the end of 2013, the topic of changing the age of consent in England and Wales was much in the news.  She suggests that much of the debate has focused expressly or impliedly on the age of which men and boys have sexual intercourse (whether gay or straight). Those who argue for a reduction in the age of consent use (whether knowingly or not) a queer theory approach to the issue.  Queer theory, originally intended to be a liberating phenomenon, has in fact become synonymous with white gay men. Consequently, the debate on the age of consent has ignored or given insufficient attention to the effect(s) a lowering of the age of consent will have on girls and women.

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