Countryside Planning: The First Half Century

Countryside Planning: The First Half Century

Countryside Planning: The First Half Century

Countryside Planning: The First Half Century

Synopsis

The countryside and its use is a major issue in contemporary society. This book addresses the key concepts and issues, including planning for agriculture, forestry and the built environment. It treats policy and trends across the spectrum.

Excerpt

In the second half of the twentieth century countryside planning has become one of the most vibrant and lively issues in current affairs, and it looks set to become one of the key tasks facing those who would try to shape the destiny of the new twenty-first century. For example, the debate over the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 prompted more letters to The Times newspaper than it has received on any other similar occasion in its history; more people are members of conservation groups like the National Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds than watch sport at the weekend; and programmes on wildlife and countryside access command prime time on TV. The Government published a major ‘Rural White Paper’ in 1995 which reported a Countryside Commission survey that found that 93 per cent of people considered that the countryside is valuable, and 91 per cent believed that society has a moral duty to protect the countryside for future generations (Cm 3016, 1995). What is it about the countryside and its evolution that causes such passion? There are two basic answers.

First, the countryside resonates with meanings relating to our most basic needs for food, shelter and procreation. A walk in the countryside will thus reveal to us: fields full of food; woods or hedgerows as places of shelter or abundant materials for building shelters; and wildlife rushing about in the throes of mating, building nests or rearing young. The countryside is thus a powerful metaphor for our own mortality as animals rather than sophisticated people cocooned in the artificial world of cyberspace.

Second, since 52 per cent of the countryside is owned by well under 1 per cent of the population, and a massive 75 per cent by only 3 per cent of the population, most of us feel powerless to control countryside change directly (Norton-Taylor, 1982). These feelings of frustration are compounded by the many perceived and real threats to the countryside which are constantly reported in the media, fuelled by specialised pressure groups like the Council for the Protection of Rural England. The only sensible

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