Interim good news

The Glover review is showing a bit of ankle and it looks quite attractive in some ways. The trouble with these sneak previews of reports is that one knows that they are aiming to give something to everyone and that the full report might not be so attractive and, in any case, it all depends what the government makes of them in the end.

And so I wonder whether optimists will find plenty they like in this glimpse and pessimists will find plenty they dislike. I’m a bit of an optimist, I think.

Here are some quotes I liked best:

We should not be satisfied with what we have at the moment. It falls short of what can be achieved, what the people of our country want and what the government says it expects in the 25-year plan for the environment. [Everyone will like this because they think it means change in the direction they want]

… the national zeal of the founding mission for landscape protection has been eroded. There is a culture which has neither kept pace with changes in our society nor responded with vigour to the decline in thediversity of the natural environment [Everyone will like this because they think it means change in the direction they want]

… our system of designated landscapes should be a positive force for improvement with big ambitions made possible by these 44 areas uniting to become more than the sum of their parts [Everyone will like this because they think it means change in the direction they want]

More must be done for nature and beauty. More must be done for people who live in and visit our landscapes, too. And a lot more must be done to meet the needs of our many fellow citizens who do not know the countryside at the moment, or do not always feel welcome in it, but should be able to enjoy it. [Everyone will like this because their interest gets a mention]

We … will explore the potential for a National Landscape Service [Good – although a Forest and Land service like that in Scotland would be quite good]

…the current system of governance for National Parks should be reformed. Time after time we have heard and seen that boards are too big, do not do a good job in setting a strategic direction and ambition, and are unrepresentative of both society and, at times, of the things parks should be leading on, such as natural beauty, climate change,and diversity [This is quite specific, and quite welcome]

The 2010 Lawton Review and the most recent 2016 State of Nature Report are explicit about the crisis of nature and what needs to be done to bring about a recovery. We agree and we want to see designated landscapes lead the response [Sounds good to me, I’ll look forward to seeing what the details are]

Our system of landscape protection has been hampered by having little influence over the things which have done most harm to nature, including a system of farming subsidies which, although it has improved, rewarded intensification regardless of the consequences [True. Difficult to fix, I await the details with interest]

We believe that National Parks and AONBs are not currently delivering on their duty in relation to nature [Hallelujah!]

We would like to see designated landscapes become leaders in Nature Recovery Networks [Yes, indeed, if you take the jargon out, that would be good]

Our landscapes are largely farmed landscapes and we think a partnership with farming which promotes nature recovery is needed. Our designated landscapes should be bold about the potential of subsidy reform [Yes, but you can be bold in all sorts of directions – let’s see the details]

… take a lead in the national response to climate change [That would be good, probably, depending on what it means – how about getting serious on moorland burning, for example?]

… as John Dower wrote in 1945, “if National Parks are provided for the nation they should clearly be provided for by the nation”. At the very least we want to see existing budgets for National Parks secured in real terms and sustained for a further five year period. [The quote from 1945 is correct, that from 2019 is utterly feeble]

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/817608/landscapes-review-interim-findings-july2019.pdf

All in all, there is not any very clear bad news here, and some potential good news – but let’s see the full report before getting too enthusiastic…

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2 Replies to “Interim good news”

  1. Yet another “sneak preview”…The irritating cliché “sneak” says it all with such previews--a supposedly illicit glimpse? No, a careful piece of public manipulation.

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  2. This...“We … will explore the potential for a National Landscape Service”... combined with a better national voice in protected landscape governance is really exciting.

    Imagine if all state owned land in National Parks was managed consistently by one organisation for the benefit of nature and people. In the Lake District National Park for example, if the tiny 3-4% of land owned by the NPA could be combined with that of Forestry England, local councils, Environment Agency etc you start to achieve a decent chunk of land which can be managed appropriately for biodiversity, public access etc. At the moment all managed for different public purposes, and vested interests - often conflicting.

    If utility companies every become nationalised, perhaps there is a strong case for handing their land to this new body as well. United utilities are one of the largest land owner in the Lake District apparently.

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