A protest worth making if you care about our landscape

When governments speak warm words about consulting the public it is sensible to be wary. The word “choice” will not be far away and, as the Thatcher years proved, the apparently harmless idea of offering consumer choice can be the magic key that opens the door to deregulation and a financial free-for-all. It is big […]

The hidden terrors of the countryside

It is time for town-dwellers to be very brave. We are about to venture into the perilous unknown. There is a place, according to no less an authority than the director-general of the National Trust, which is “alien” and “full of unfamiliar, unexpected things”. Today’s generation, Dame Fiona Reynolds has warned, “runs the risk of […]

At last, the wind of change is blowing in favour of local power

It seems only minutes ago that it was a good and progressive thing to be local and active. Suddenly the wind has changed. A report on the energy industry, to be published next week, will reveal that the number of onshore wind farms to be granted planning permission dropped by a half in the 12 […]

“NIMBY”: a byword for lazy-minded prejudice

Has there ever  in modern history been a sillier, yet also brutally effective, term of abuse than “nimby”?  It is a word which might have been formulated by a brilliant but cynical advertising copywriter or perhaps one of the more cunning spin-doctors lurking evilly in the corridors of Whitehall. It squashes any debate around planning […]

It’s time we tackled people’s ignorance about rural life

How much more mature and sensible our culture would be if primary school children were taught about the countryside, preferably with regular nature walks in the company of a well-informed teacher. It may sound-old fashioned, even Blytonesque, but, if children were occasionally taken outside the bubble of our cosseted, urbanised culture, the results in later […]

A challenge to notions of community

It was all wrong. The clear sunshine of a perfect early summer’s day, the Lakeland countryside at its most beautiful, half-term in a small rural community: again and again, among those interviewed as the full horror of the last day of Derrick Bird unfolded, the same question was asked. How could such a thing happen […]

A land despoiled by pylons

There are many practical advantages to government by panic, as our politicians have recently discovered. Fear is an excellent way to cut through awkward questions. In a pessimistic, timorous world, emotion beats reason into a cocked hat. Right now, government by panic is propelling a series of appalling planning decisions in the name of energy […]

The cheerful prejudice of the town-dweller

An odd, apparently light-hearted conversation from the weekend has been bothering me. At a dinner, a bright, opinionated woman from London, on a weekend in the country,  had been amused to see roadside signs objecting to a wind turbine development outside the village. What was wrong with these people? She wondered.  She put up with […]