Letter: Our landscape as a work of art

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Our landscape as a work of art

Sir: The director of the National Art Collections Fund is rightly anxious that Lottery money should continue to be available to buy works of art ("Lottery cash for parks", 4 September).

However, he shows a disappointingly narrow view by suggesting that our parks, countryside and areas of finest landscape are not part of the heritage. The English landscape was largely created by the daily work of the common people who toiled in the woods and fields. It is enshrined in our culture through poetry, music and painting but is experienced most widely by those who live in it and visit it now.

Because it is a living entity, not a museum piece, it cannot be bought for the nation with a large capital sum of the kind which the Lottery distributes. The countryside needs constant care by people performing tasks such as hedgerow maintenance, ditch clearing and coppicing. Urban spaces and village greens alike need reliable revenue funding if they are to continue to give refreshment and delight to the people. The Lottery rules should be changed so that it can finance the upkeep of our living inheritance.

Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy may change the emphasis of farming subsidies from production to "agri-environmental" schemes, but the money allocated to such schemes is peanuts compared with overall CAP spending, and we can no longer rely on the landscape to be an automatic by-product of food production as farms shed labour still further to cut costs in order to compete with world prices.


Horton Kirby, Kent