For years I could enjoy the treasures of the beautiful English country, by way of using a National Trust Membership Card and visiting the protected sites.
To celebrate the life and legacy of the Trust’s founder, who led campaigns to save green spaces such as Parliament Hill Fields and Hampstead Heath in London in Victorian Britain, the Octavia Hill awards have been launched.
But Britain, who previously was so proud of its heritage is falling for the big business and money. Once more we can see another concession to developers in the review of the Habitats Regulations that protect huge swathes of precious landscape. It threatens wildlife in areas like the Thames Estuary, Lindisfarne and Salisbury Plains, Dartmoor, the New Forest, Richmond Park, Morecombe Bay and the Norfolk Fens.
It is unbelievable in a country were there is so much space that developers could be allowed to build on some of Britain’s most beautiful countryside under the latest Government plans to water down strict EU protections. Under those new plans government agencies which are meant to protect the countryside are to be forced to encourage more building in rural areas.
The Government said that in future “only those parts of a building that contribute to its special interest are protected by regulation, removing the requirement to apply for a consent for works that impact other parts of the building”.
Sources close to the Department for the Environment believe the review will bring the regulations in line with the controversial National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and propose a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ over rules strict regulations.
Mary Creagh, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, added: “ The Autumn Statement shows the Tory-led Government is out of touch with everyone who cares about our countryside.” “This latest plan to take a wrecking ball to environmental protection shows how out of touch the Tory-led Government is with everyone who cares about our countryside.
“The Government has already tried to sell off our forests, and is now unpicking the laws that protect Britain’s habitats, wildlife, air and water quality. Good environmental regulations have created thousands of green jobs over the last ten years.”
The head of the National Trust says that ministers should learn from the experiences of other countries. “Can it really be a coincidence that the nations currently in the deepest economic trouble – Greece, Italy, Ireland – all share a reputation for lax planning regimes?” she writes.
“Planning is an essential tool for making the right choices about places, and for preventing disastrous mistakes that will lock us into inefficient, ugly and expensive development patterns for ever. Irreversibly short term free-for-alls will be regretted at our long-term leisure.”
Planning needs to balance the many competing demands for one of this crowded country’s scarcest resources. Of course, growth will be harmed if the process is too onerous and burdensome; but, as Dame Fiona points out, the oft-quoted claim that planning restrictions are holding back the economy is hard to sustain.
- CAMPAIGN: HANDS OFF OUR LANDThe Telegraph is campaigning against radical Government reforms to planning laws which opponents say pose the greatest threat to the countryside since the Second World War. Read about the controversy in detail and join in the debate here.
- Hands Off Our Land: by numbersKey facts and figures from The Telegraph’s campaign against the Government’s proposals to reform planning laws in favour of sustainable development
- Hands Off Our Land: your view
- The battle to save London’s green spaces
- Hands Off Our Land: stop this planning free-for-all, National Trust warns
David Cameron must not use the “smokescreen” of a planning “free-for-all” as a substitute for a proper strategy to boost the economy, the director-general of the National Trust has warned.
- Hands Off Our Land: A time to listen
- Hands Off Our Land: Natural England, English Heritage to be forced to promote more building
- Countryside at risk under latest plans to downgrade planning laws
- National Trust awards recognise green space campaigners
- Tyntesfield: Digging deep and winning the English Heritage Angels Award (hurtlingtowards60.wordpress.com)
- The Angel Awards: The stories behind the winners (telegraph.co.uk)
- Countryside at risk under latest plans to downgrade planning laws (telegraph.co.uk)
- Saturday interview: Fiona Reynolds, National Trust director general (guardian.co.uk)
- NEWS: Sustainable development won’t reduce heritage protection? Judge for yourself! (heritageaction.wordpress.com)
- English Heritage publishes guidance on the setting of heritage assets (heritageaction.wordpress.com)
English Heritage has published a guidance paper on the setting of heritage assets. Broadly, it is about what should be done when development is likely to affect the view of and from monuments. As they say…. “The significance of a heritage asset derives not only from its physical presence and historic fabric but also from its setting – the surroundings in which it is experienced. The careful management of change within the surroundings of heritage assets therefore makes an important contribution to the quality of the places in which we live.”
- The Angel Awards: Orangery and coal mine honoured by Lloyd-Webber (telegraph.co.uk)
Andrew Lloyd-Webber has honoured the ‘Heritage Angels’ who have brought back to life some of England’s most historic ruins, from a charming orangery to a
The first English Heritage Angel Awards , founded earlier this year by Lord Lloyd-Webber to celebrate the efforts of local people in rescuing their heritage, were announced at a gala…
- Award for Ilam Cross restoration (peakdistrictview.wordpress.com)
Villagers in Ilam who oversaw a restoration of their historic Ilam Cross centre-piece were placed in the final 16 of the English Heritage Angel Awards following the project, which was completed last month.
- Ministers join rebellion against more building in countryside (independent.co.uk)
Conservative ministers have joined the revolt against the Government’s controversial proposals to relax the planning rules to allow more building in the countryside.
The rebel ministers have written strongly worded private letters to Greg Clark, the Planning minister, urging him to think again about his move to streamline planning guidance to include “a presumption in favour of sustainable development”.
- Hands Off Our Land: Ministers rebel against Government plans (telegraph.co.uk)
Conservative ministers have voiced their opposition to the Government’s
reforms to planning laws, which would remove obstructions to building in the
- Bittern in booming good health in England’s quarries and wetlands (guardian.co.uk)
Britain’s loudest bird, the bittern, is enjoying its best year since records began, thanks partly to a new penchant for nesting in disused and working quarries.
- Forestry sell-off plan overlooked benefits, panel says (guardian.co.uk)
The benefits of England’s publicly owned forestswere “greatly undervalued” by the planned state sell-off, a government-appointed panel will say on Thursday in a report that deals a new blow to the coalition’s green credentials.The independent report, seen by the Guardian, says the £20m cost to the state of maintaining the forests and woodlands is “very modest and delivers benefits far in excess of this” and contrasts the sum with the £250m spent on reinstating weekly bin collections.The social benefits of the natural environment – estimated at £1bn-£2bn for woodlands alone – were highlighted by the government’s own landmark assessment in June, but the new report makes clear these benefits were overlooked in the forestry proposals. It comes amid a furore over plans to relax planning rules and just a week after George Osborne enraged environmentalists by talking of “endless social and environmental goals” and arguing that some placed “ridiculous costs on British businesses”.
- Forestry panel back public estate (mirror.co.uk)
In a progress report, the Independent Panel on Forestry says it is developing recommendations that will “increase the benefits generated from all forests in England”.
- Forestry panel back public estate (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
Bishop of Liverpool the Right Reverend James Jones, who chairs the panel, said: “Although our panel was born out of fierce debate over the future of the public forest estate, what has become apparent through our work so far is that we must look at the future of all woods and forests, not just the one-fifth managed by the Forestry Commission.”Through the 42,000 responses to our call for views, the public expressed their passion for forests as a place of recreation, to connect with nature and as a vital source of resources.
- National News: Forestry panel back public estate (coventrytelegraph.net)
Mary Creagh, shadow environment secretary, said: “Labour welcomes this thoughtful report from the Independent Panel on Forestry, which reflects the views of some 40,000 people and their heartfelt concern and affection for England’s forests. Our forests are a precious reflection of our national heritage, and will play a pivotal role in the green economy and our low carbon future.”Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “I’d like to thank the Independent Panel for their ongoing hard work in shaping forestry policy in England and look forward to their full report next spring.”
- Planning reforms: fee threat to village greens (telegraph.co.uk)
In official documents, ministers admit the proposed charge is likely to mean
that fewer people will apply for the special protection. This will benefit
developers, they say, as the planning process will take less time.
- Economic crisis must not be used as a ‘smokescreen’ to roll back planning laws, say National Trust (dailymail.co.uk)
The National Trust has said the Government must not use the economic crisis as a ‘smokescreen’ to roll back planning laws.
- Llyndy Isaf farm in Wales saved by National Trust after £1m appeal(guardian.co.uk)
Beautiful land and lake where wildlife thrives, and where legend says dragons fought, saved following 20,000 donations.Llyn Dinas lake and the Llyndy Isaf farm have been saved after a National Trust appeal raised £1m. Photograph: Geraint Thomas/National Trust/PA
Llyn Dinas and the farm, Llyndy Isaf, are considered special partly because they are home to a wealth of wildlife but also because the area is the setting for the mythical battle between a red and white dragon. Legend says the red dragon won, and thus it became the country’s beloved national symbol.
The National Trust launched its biggest countryside appeal for more than a decade and raised the money needed in seven months with donations from 20,000 people.
The campaign to acquire the 250 hectares of land was backed by Welsh actors Matthew Rhys and Catherine Zeta Jones.
- RSPB and National Trust may lose millions due to EU reforms (guardian.co.uk)
Reform to EU’s farming subsidies may mean National Trust and RSPB lose millions of pounds in funding
The UK’s biggest conservation charities stand to lose millions of pounds of funding for wildlife and countryside protection work, because of European farming subsidy reforms.
- National News: Trust hits back in planning law row (coventrytelegraph.net)
people did not just care about the greenbelt and national parks – as the row over proposals to sell off public forests earlier in the year showed.
Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, which represents the house building industry, accused the National Trust of “scaremongering” over planning policy.Mr Baseley added: “We have an acute housing crisis that has resulted in millions living in sub-standard accommodation or on waiting lists and young people unable to buy their own home. To address this we need a planning system that balances social, economic and environmental concerns.”
- What should the proposed Thames estuary airport be called? | Open thread (guardian.co.uk)
oris Johnson has been putting the case for a new airport in the Thames estuary. If it goes ahead, it’ll need a catchier name
Boris Johnson is restating the case for a new airport in the Thames estuary.
- Sustainability Update : Government breaks pledge to keep developers off farmland (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
Britain ‘s best farmland will no longer be shielded from development, proposed new planning rules suggest, reversing a pledge made by the Conservatives before the last election.
- The strange campaign against the national planning policy framework | John Rhodes (guardian.co.uk)
Those who spread fear about ‘uncontrolled development’ can’t have read this independent and localist draft framework.
- Government breaks pledge to keep developers off farmland (independent.co.uk)
- What the changes to the planning system actually mean for sustainable transport (bettertransport.org.uk)
- Planning reforms will threaten Britain’s ability to grow food (telegraph.co.uk)
- Beautiful places also need affordable homes (redbrickblog.wordpress.com)
Like other areas in rural Northumberland, Lindisfarne has suffered from rocketing house prices, driven by the second homes boom, and rapid rent rises, driven by shortage and competition from the holiday lettings trade. Local people could not afford to buy or to rent on the island, the school closed, and the traditional community was dying.
- Hampstead Heath and Primrose Hill (dgreelondon.wordpress.com)
Hampstead Heath is more suburban than Hyde Park. It is quiet and peaceful but there are still plenty of people walking around.
- Clive Anderson’s favourite autumn walks (telegraph.co.uk)
Not that Hampstead Heath itself is ever particularly empty: it attracts of all sorts of people, day and night. Most obviously, parents airing their children, romantics clinging to their lovers, and owners exercising their dogs.It’s at its best later in the year. When it’s warm and sunny it can feel too crowded with casual visitors. But frosts and mist, rain and snow deter the Heath’s fair-weather friends.
- Plaid Tweed Cap for Errant Lads (beauduqueer.wordpress.com)
“When you came into view.
I’ve got a crush on you, sweetie pie
All the day and nighttime, hear me sigh
I never had the least notion
That I could fall with so much emotion”
- Charles Dickens’s London of dirt and despair captured in evocative exhibition (guardian.co.uk)
Paintings of Victorian poverty go on display alongside rare manuscripts in the first museum show on the author in 40 years.
- Attack on the countryside will delight rentiers (guardian.co.uk)
As the chancellor establishes his Republic of Gideon, finally big landowners have their champion of slash and burn capitalism.
The Republic of Gideon began to take shape on Tuesday, when the chancellor launched a full-spectrum assault on both workers and the environment. In his autumn statement, he curtailed public sector pay and, once again, hammered the tax credits and benefits upon which the poorest people depend. At the same time he gave away £250m in yet another bailout for big business: in this case the UK’s most polluting industries. Read Damian Carrington’s withering exposure of this exercise in crony capitalism, and you will rage and gnash your teeth.