Magazine article The Spectator

Meet the Real Scourge of the English Countryside

Magazine article The Spectator

Meet the Real Scourge of the English Countryside

Article excerpt

I'm off to Balcombe this weekend. In fact I might even carry a placard and paint my face with a clever pun, like 'F*** off!' or 'Go f*** yourself.' Because it's time to add my voice in opposition to a greedy industry which threatens your ground water, exudes greenhouse gases, leaches chemicals into the earth, destroys the beauty of the landscape and imperils our native fauna and flora wherever its grasping hand is felt. This extractive activity fills the air with noxious smells and clogs the roads with slowmoving vehicles; its safety record is appalling, with a high rate of workrelated injuries and famously low worker pay. Moreover it has been shown to play havoc with property prices, creating immense wealth for a few owners but few jobs for local communities - despite the billions of pounds it receives from government.

Yep, I'm heading to West Sussex to launch a one-man protest against farming. Because, truly, as a means to generate wealth from land, fracking is a far cleaner alternative.

Compared to the economic value they generate, farmers don't half need a lot of room. They contribute a meagre 0.6 per cent to UK GDP and employ about 3 per cent of the population, while occupying 80 per cent of the land. Our car industry produces five times as much wealth with about 0.0000003 per cent of the surface area.

Farming is ugly, typically requiring sheds full of rusting machinery and a turd-coated concrete yard right next to the kind of Georgian house that would otherwise make an attractive home for an advertising executive.

Ever since it was pioneered by greedy Mesopotamian speculators, the industry has blighted humankind, igniting territorial disputes and largescale warfare. Until the last century there was at least the justification that it created work. No longer. I am largely descended from farming stock, and should perhaps be more sentimental:

yet you may be descended from farriers, thatchers, coopers, fletchers or tanners. …

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