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NIMBY (an acronym of Not In My Back Yard) describes the opposition of residents to the nearby location of something they consider undesirable, even if it is generally considered a benefit for many. Examples include: an incinerator, an ethanol plant, a nuclear-power plant, or a prison.[1]

NIMBY and its derivative terms NIMBYism, NIMBYs, and NIMBYists, refer implicitly to debates of development generally or to a specific case. As such, their use is inherently contentious. The Oxford English Dictionary identifies the acronym's earliest use as being in 1980 in the Christian Science Monitor. The term is usually applied to opponents of a development, implying that they have narrow, selfish, or myopic views. Its use is often pejorative.[2]

The term has been applied in debates over developments in various situations, including:

  • when parties advocate infrastructure development such as highways, light rail and metro lines, airports, power plants, electrical transmission lines, wastewater treatment plants, landfills, sewerage outfalls or prisons
  • when parties build, operate, or advocate culturally unfamiliar functions, such as subsidized housing, halfway houses, or homeless shelters
  • when a government or private party advocates development of residential or commercial property.


Opposition to certain developments as inappropriate anywhere in the world is characterised by the acronym NIABY (Not In Anyone's Backyard). The building of nuclear power plants, for example, is often subject to NIABY concerns. Other terms for the same phenomenon is BANANA and NOTE (Not Over There, Either).

Points of debate

Primary debate points

Frequently argued debate points in favor of development include higher employment, tax revenue, marginal cost of remote development, safety, and environmental benefits.

Those opposed to development might argue against increases in local traffic, harm to small business, loss of property value, environmental degradation, loss of a community's small-town feel, strain of public resources and schools, disproportionate benefit to non-locals or new residents, increases in crime, and failure to "blend in" with the surrounding architecture.

Secondary debate points

Proponents of development may accuse locals of elitism, parochialism, drawbridge mentality, that public services are demanded without regard to how government will pay for them, that private sector companies provide or improve upon services without regard to what infrastructure is required to deliver them, opposition to diversity, inevitability of criticism, and misguided or unrealistic claims of prevention of urban sprawl.

Opponents might argue that "progress" is not a given, or that one group's greed is not necessarily in the public's interest.


Alexandria, Virginia, U.S.

In Alexandria, Virginia, people who opposed high-density development in Potomac Yard were faulted for demanding a Washington Metro station while simultaneously opposing the scale of development that would provide either sufficient funds for the station or sufficient ridership to justify its construction.

Ashtead, Surrey, UK

In the small English village of Ashtead, Surrey, residents objected to the conversion of a large, £1.7 million residential property into a family support center for relatives of wounded British service personnel. The house was to be purchased by a charity, SSAFA Forces Help.[3][4][5] Local residents objected to the proposal out of fear of increased traffic and noise, as well as the possibility of an increased threat of terrorism. They also contended that the SSAFA charity is actually a business, thereby setting an unwelcome precedent.[6] Local newspapers ran articles titled "Nimby neighbours' war with wounded soldiers' families" and "No Heroes in my Backyard."

Ex-servicemen and several members of the British general public organised a petition in support of SSAFA, and even auctioned the "Self Respect of Ashtead" on eBay.

See also

  • CAVE People
  • Drawbridge mentality
  • Neo-Luddism
  • Smart Growth


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster
  2. ^ You can’t park here: it’s my retreat, says ‘Nimby’ Clooney (The Times)
  3. ^ Headley Court Families Accommodation (SSAFA Forces Help)
  4. ^ Nimby neighbours' war with wounded soldiers' families (Daily Mail, 15 July 2007)
  5. ^ NO HEROES IN MY BACKYARD: Residents fight guest house for servicemen’s relatives (Your Local Guardian, 19 July 2007)
  6. ^ Letters of Representation (Mole Valley Council)
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "NIMBY". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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