Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Land Lobby

Farmers are congratulating themselves that Natural England has decided to scrap its Vital Uplands vision written in 2009 and supposed to extend to 2060. This follows N.E.'s withdrawal from action against the grouse industry’s responsibility for burning peat bogs only last month.

Something of a crisis of confidence in NE which has always seemed to be a hopeless case even alongside other bureaucracies. Is this the work of Environment Secretary Spelman responding to the farming lobby and putting an armlock on the supposed ‘arms length’ agency? The NE vision was intended, in a pretty tame way, to take off some of the pressure on the upland vegetation caused by overgrazing. This is now the second time in a few weeks that the agency has backed off under pressure from the farming and shooting lobbies.

All the more reason for those of us who are asking for less farming and more natural landscapes to make our feelings known when we’re talking about public land. On Saturday The Sheffield Moors Partnership is meeting with the public to feed back from its meetings earlier this year. It’s clear there are some pretty strong views as posted on the SMP website. All the more reason for a proper, genuine and extended public consultation. Not just with a few stakeholders and identified vested interests.

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