What’s the lay of the land?
The owner of some of the Lake District’s finest mountains, Jim Lowther, has apparently become a supporter of “rewilding” - restoring land to their original, uncultivated state. He wants “sterile” grassland covering his fells replaced with heather, shrubs, trees and wildlife.
But that sounds like a noble idea…
Not, perhaps, if you’re a sheep farmer. The aristocratic landowner’s plan would involve a drastic reduction in the number of sheep on the fells, leaving local farmers at risk of losing their livelihoods. Mr Lowther has reportedly told local farmers, who have a historic right to graze sheep on his land, that from now on he will not countersign their application forms for agricultural subsidies.
A wolf in sheep’s clothing?
Mr Lowther, who inherited his 75,000-acre estate from his father, the 7th Earl of Lonsdale, apparently wants the farmers to consider new methods that reduce sheep numbers and promote wildlife. The National Trust was previously in control of the fells and leased them from Mr Lowther’s father, but the heir to the estate has reportedly ended that agreement. Mike Innerdale, assistant director for the organisation’s North West region, told The Sunday Times: “Lowther is entitled to move on but it is wrong to just wade in and change the way farmers work. It is like the old days of the feudal landowner.”Reuse content