Terence Blacker: We must fight them in the fields

We can no longer take our rural landscape for granted

Share
Related Topics

It has taken an unlovely trio to bring current attitudes towards the poor old British countryside into sharp and alarming focus. Donald Trump, James Packer and John Prescott are united in their view that the landscape is an expendable asset, there to be exploited like any other.

The American billionaire has bought up part of the Scottish coast for a vast golf complex. The Australian billionaire plans a polo resort in west Sussex. The Labour grandee (and now professional class warrior) has attacked those who put what he calls their "chocolate box views" before the energy needs of the country. "It's not their back yard any more," he has announced. "It's ours."

Now is a good moment to recognise that we can no longer take our rural landscape for granted. There is already huge demand for space – for houses, energy, business and leisure complexes – and, with the news that population growth is accelerating, that pressure will increase.

A basic injustice is at work here. Those with the political and financial power to decide the future of the landscape are precisely those who care least about it. Some loathe the countryside and the values it represents. It is hardly surprising, to take an obvious example, that Prescott sees rural Britain as a place of squires and chocolate box views. He is, after all, a man so averse to walking that he once took a car for a 200-yard trip to the Labour conference.

It is time for those who realise that the natural and agricultural landscapes of Britain are as important as the economic priorities of profit and growth to make themselves heard. We need to nail the lies and assumptions which have been repeated so often by interested parties in positions of power.

The countryside is a finite resource. There is a limit to how much battering it can take. Once it goes, it disappears for ever. Wildlife trusts may be able to restore patches of heathland or ancient woodland but, when the developments are man-made, those changes are irreversible. Indeed, once a landscape is scarred, the process will accelerate. Developers find it easy to persuade planning committees that more clutter on an already cluttered area will make no difference to its character.

Another dangerous supposition lies behind the phrases frequently used when a rural area is under assault. "Unremarkable countryside" is one, "an unexceptional stretch of land" another. A new orthodoxy is being revealed. Areas of outstanding beauty should be conserved for tourists and ramblers; the rest, the "unexceptional" ordinary fields, hedgerows and woods, are expendable.

Something is going seriously wrong when millions watch badgers on Autumnwatch or tut with disapproval at news of pollution and forest clearance from around the world while, at the same time, our own fragile landscape is being eroded and compromised.

The landscape matters. Places of wildness and tranquility provide sustenance to the soul. Loving a view is not a middle-class indulgence. Defending areas of local character, for the sake of future generations, is important. Do these things really need saying? Given the madness of contemporary debate about the countryside, it seems that they do.

terblacker@aol.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Hang on – that’s not how it’s supposed to be written

Guy Keleny
Rafael Nadal is down and out, beaten by Dustin Brown at Wimbledon – but an era is not thereby ended  

Sad as it is, Rafael Nadal's decline does not mark the end of tennis's golden era

Tom Peck
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test