“And that will be England gone,
The shadows, the meadows, the lanes,
The guildhalls, the carved choirs.
There’ll be books; it will linger on
In galleries; but all that remains
For us will be concrete and tyres”
Philip Larkin, Going, going (1972)
Philip Larkin’s 1972 prediction of what lay in store for England has, thankfully, not been played out everywhere. In 2015, however, whether it’s proposals for a cable car in Cheddar Gorge, a huge potash mine in the North York Moors National Park, or 400 homes in the setting of Robert Adam’s beautiful Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire, there is a growing concern that England’s landscapes are under pressure from ‘concrete and tyres’ as never before.
That’s why we’ve teamed up with a wide range of organisations including the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Ramblers, the Landscape Institute and Friends of the Earth to encourage politicians to do more to ensure our landscapes survive and thrive – Landscapes for everyone.
Our diverse landscapes are hugely important to the nation’s health and well-being, making a significant contribution to the economy through tourism or farming or simply providing attractive places for people to live, work or play. They are also nature’s home, providing habitats for many threatened species and vital environmental services such as carbon storage and alleviating flooding. Government figures show growing numbers of visits to natural environments, and an estimated spend of £17 billion by visitors to these areas in the 2013/14 financial year.
With increasing pressure for housing, transport and other infrastructure, it’s more important than ever that Government policy, funding and legislation recognise the enormous contribution that distinctive, beautiful, characterful and cared-for landscapes make to the nation.
As Peter Nixon, Director of Land, Landscapes and Nature at the National Trust, says:
“From the public park to the National Park, and the historic townscape to the natural seascape, these are places that we go to play, explore and escape. But the landscapes that we love so much are at risk, as never before, from cuts to council budgets and the slow creep of concrete.
“As organisations, we’ve come together to ask Government and political parties to celebrate landscapes, and to show their commitment to a better future for these places, that have inspired generations of people.”
Our Call to Action
We are asking whoever forms the next Government to recognise the importance of landscape to the well-being and quality of life of the nation by committing to:
Better landscapes for people
• Improve and maintain public transport, rights of way networks and public green spaces so that people can access the countryside and enjoy their local landscapes;
• Provide funding to help schools plan visits for children to their local countryside, as well as nearby National Parks, AONBs, NSAs and historic parks and gardens.
Better planning for landscapes
• Strengthen planning protections for landscape – the planning system is one of the best tools we have to protect landscapes. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for England, Planning Policy Wales, Scottish Planning Policy and other planning guidance should be strengthened to protect our best and irreplaceable landscapes, including their setting, from major and intrusive development;
• Integrate the UK’s commitment to the European Landscape Convention into Government policies, including the NPPF and equivalents in Scotland and Wales;
• Endorse and promote the National Character Area profiles as a tool for local authorities and policy makers to take a holistic approach to planning and landscape management in each area.
Better places for nature
• Encourage the restoration of degraded or impoverished landscapes in and around our towns and cities as well as the wider countryside, for the benefit of people, nature and the economy;
• Ensure our National Parks, AONBs, NSAs, Historic Landscapes, historic public parks and green spaces have sufficient resources to guarantee their long term protection and enhancement.