Hinterland - 29 November 2021

The weather tells me it is definitely beginning to feel like Christmas – 3 and a bit weeks out from it! In Hinterland this week – brownfield land exhortations, sewage in the sea (there must be a prosaic link there), rural mental health, CofE on farming, National Trust on hunting and the new version of Cobden’s rural rides is beginning with a Hermes driver in And Finally. Read on...

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‘Immoral’ developers ‘targeting rural areas and refusing to build on brownfield sites’

These sound like a well balanced (not) series of statements from CPRE. I wonder if its just developers who want to build in rural areas? I suspect it takes more than one side of the equation to make a market and after all when was the last time anyone under 25 got a mortgage in large swathes of rural England…..

Developers are “gorging” on greenfield sites in rural areas to build despite a record amount of brownfield land being available for construction, a charity has said.

A report by the CPRE, an organisation that aims to protect the countryside, said there is enough brownfield land in England to accommodate 1.3 million homes.

Despite this, CPRE said “wasteful and immoral” developers are choosing to concrete over greensites because it is cheaper. Emma Bridgewater, the charity’s president, is calling for councils and planners to take a “brownfield first policy”.

“We need to direct councils and developers to use these sites – often in town and city centres where housing need is most acute – before any greenfield land can be released,” she said.

“It is wasteful and immoral to abandon our former industrial heartlands where factories and outdated housing have fallen into disrepair. Developing brownfield is a win-win solution that holds back the tide of new buildings on pristine countryside and aids urban regeneration at a stroke.”


UK water firms spilled sewage into sea bathing waters 5,517 times in last year

Not a good trend in relation to the image of rural seaside places and their economies….

Water companies spilled raw sewage into coastal bathing waters used by holidaymakers and families 5,517 times in the last year, an increase of more than 87%, new data reveals.

The discharges, through storm overflows, went on to beaches that were supposed to be the cleanest and safest in England and Wales, used by children, tourists, surfers and swimmers.

“We are in the midst of a new wave of sewage pollution,” said the 2021 Water Quality report by Surfers Against Sewage. “There are hundreds of thousands of sewage discharges polluting rivers and coastlines, all of which could impact the overall health of aquatic ecosystems.”

The data is gathered from water company alerts of spills via storm overflows across 308 locations. During the bathing water season – 15 May to the end of September – water companies issued alerts 3,328 times. The rest of the spills took place outside those months.


MPs launch inquiry into ‘sometimes hidden’ issue of rural mental health

This is a really important theme and something we at Hinterland will keep a sharp eye on. This article tells us:

MPs on the?Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee are set to embark on a wide-ranging inquiry into rural mental health, it has been announced today.

Farming and other agriculture-related professions are known to face particular mental health challenges, with higher-than-average rates of depression and suicide. Improving the overall quality of mental health provision has been an increasing priority for the Government and the NHS in recent years.

The Chair of the EFRA Committee, Neil Parish MP, said:

“I’m pleased we’re starting this vital work. It’s important we talk openly about these issues and the help that is available. Mental health matters to us all. But for some people working in rural communities there are special factors that are often hidden in a world that sometimes feels like it is driven by those living in towns and cities.

“I’m a farmer myself and I know how people in our communities can sometimes suffer from isolation. That’s not to mention how insecure incomes, volatile weather and many other issues can be real stress factors.

“We hope to look into all of these subjects and more – then make recommendations about how the government can improve mental health provision in rural communities.

“I encourage everyone with a take on this subject – whether professional or personal – to take part in our inquiry. The ways to let us know your views are set out below.


Government should back British farming standards in global market, says Welby

The Church of England owns very large swathes of agricultural land. I hope its land agents are listening to Mr Welby….This article tells us:

The Government must work with farmers to encourage good trade deals that preserve UK export standards, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

Archbishop Welby was delivering the annual Henry Plumb Lecture to the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) on Monday night. The NFU represents 48,000 farming businesses around the country.

“In a post-Brexit era, a time of such globalisation, our farming communities can lead the way on food standards, animal welfare, trade and exports that make people’s lives better and more prosperous around the world,” he said.

Since Britain had left the European Union and its trade deals, the farming community had a unique opportunity to be at the heart of building and rebuilding relationships abroad. “Making the most of the overseas market post-Brexit is crucial. We need to get our trade deals right to protect the world-class British standards of farming — bad deals risk exporting environmental and animal-welfare harms and destroying farmers’ livelihoods.

“Government needs to partner with farmers to build global ambition and increase the British food brand identity across the world to grow global markets.”

He continued: “The new Agriculture Act means there is an opportunity for British farming to become a global leader in sustainable, climate-friendly, high-standard food production.”

Farmers, like the clergy and churchpeople, were also well-placed to bridge the gap between rural and urban communities at home, Archbishop Welby said. There was much ignorance in the UK about the realities of farming and rural life, particularly within urban communities — which, he said, need “to understand better the value rural Britain offers”, the challenges it faces, and what is behind the food on people’s plates. (At the start of the lecture, he admitted to learning much about the difficulties of farming life from the Jeremy Clarkson series on Amazon.)


National Trust bans trail hunting on its land

This article serves to remind us of the scale and reach of the National Trust as a landowner….It reports:

The National Trust will stop issuing licences for trail hunts on its land, the charity's board of trustees said.

Trail hunting is legal and sees dogs and riders follow an artificial scent along an agreed route. It differs from traditional fox hunts which are banned.

In 2020, the National Trust suspended trail licences after video emerged of a prominent huntsman advising how to use them for covert illegal fox hunts.

Following his conviction, trust members voted to ban trail hunts on its land.

Using dogs to chase or kill foxes was made illegal in England and Wales in the Hunting Act 2004. Many organisations instead turned to trail hunting which involves laying a scent for hounds to chase instead of a live animal.

In October, huntsman Mark Hankinson was ordered to pay £3,500 after Westminster Magistrates' Court concluded he was "clearly encouraging the mirage of trail laying to act as cover for old fashioned illegal hunting".

Harry Bowell, the National Trust's director of land and nature, said there had been "a loss of trust and confidence in the Masters of Foxhounds Association" - where Hankinson was a director.

He said other reasons behind the decision included "the considerable resources needed to facilitate trail hunting, and the reputational risk of the activity continuing trust our land".

The move to ban trail hunting applies to the trust's land in England and Wales. No hunting is allowed on Northern Irish trust land.


And Finally

‘I’ve done 332 so far’: man aims to visit England’s 10,449 civil parishes

I admire this man’s grit – only 10,117 parishes left to visit……

When Andy Smith moved from the Lincolnshire countryside where he grew up, to Rotherham, he immediately longed for a return to his rural life.

“For the first 24 years of my life I lived in a village, and living in a town is a big difference,” said 37-year-old Smith, who was born in Saxilby. “It made me miss village life. So I thought, how can I combine the missing of village life with my passion for geography?”

His answer was to launch a lifelong quest to visit all 10,449 civil parishes in England, documenting his travels via a YouTube channel under a new name – The Village Idiot.

“I’ve done 332 so far, but my enthusiasm is not going to waver, I’ll say that much,” said Smith. “It’s probably going to take me the best part of 25 to 30 years to do it. But as long as I’ve got that enthusiasm, I’m going to just keep pushing and pushing.”

Smith, who also works as a Hermes delivery driver, usually spends three days a week travelling to different parishes, and puts out a new video about a parish every day.


About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.


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