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Do the uplands of England need protection?

10:02 UK time, Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) says a programme of policies is needed to protect hill communities and the landscape. Do you agree?

An inquiry found areas such as the Lake District, Dartmoor and the North Yorkshire Moors are impoverished.

The commission is calling for an approach which would see farmers being paid for looking after the countryside. It also wants changes in planning rules to make more affordable housing and says the national parks authorities should be given more powers.

How can we do more to protect England's upland areas? Do you live in a rural community? Do you welcome the proposals?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


  • Comment number 1.

    Pay farmers to look after the countryside. They don't exactly have a great track record do they? Where I live the hillsides are blotted by unsitely farm buildings(tin sheds), and farm mess and rubble. Old tyres piled two storeys high, polythene blowing about the field from hayballs, empty feeding buckets, torn up tracks by tractors, extermination of any animal that is not a cash crop, fences and dykes in disrepair, tree plantations planted so that you couldn't get a feeler gauge between the trees. Not to mention the new fad for spraying the fields with human excrement. If you want to clean up the countryside then get the bad farmers to clean up their own mess first without paying them.

  • Comment number 2.

    Of course the countryside and its communities need protection. There have been too many backhanders from developers, supermarket owners, energy companies.

    I could never understand what "affordable housing" was. Building more and more houses will never make it more affordable until there are more houses than people wanting them. How many million people live in the UK? Then they have to be in the area where people work. Is anyone who has bought a house not going to sell at the market value? If they don't, how will they buy another house? You end up with properties with no more than a yard for a garden on a road called "Hazel Copse Lane" - sounds so idyllic, doesn't it? From a recent report, I understand that many new-build houses have room sizes which effectively label them as slums.

    Paying farmers to look after the countryside - YES.

  • Comment number 3.

    Should farmers be paid more to maintain uplands - why not, the alternative would be to loose them?

    Should more affordable housing be available - yes, but not just in national parks, the cost of housing is a nationwide problem and should be addressed nationally both in rurual and urban areas. No one has the right to live in the area they were born in, but they should have access to decent housing. In rural areas that means far more high-density housing, small blocks of flats 3 stories high every 5 miles or so would quickly solve the problem, so long as the nimby's are not pampered to.

  • Comment number 4.

    Catch 22

    The areas are poor because of the lack of employment opportunities.

    Building new employment oppportunities such as factories and business parks will blight the landscape.

    I favour the ludite solution, ban the farmers from using machinery, vastly increasing the demand for rural labourers. - Problem solved

  • Comment number 5.

    Of course we MUST protect our precious uplands and moors. If you could see the devastation caused by heather burning in our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty you would be forgiven for wondering why people still shoot grouse for a so-called "sport"?

  • Comment number 6.

    I had a lovely walk in an upland area in a National Park on Sunday - spoilt by flytipping by the local farmer (it was all agricultural rubbish) which had been set fire to many times over the years. It's all well and good giving farmers more money, but they have to play their part too.

  • Comment number 7.

    More pressing is the south - it seems most of the population of this country want to live there, congestion is becoming unbearable whilst the towns and cities are slowly swallowing up the countryside. I could live with some more houses being built up north to ease the burden!

  • Comment number 8.

    A prize for the first person to blame immigration....

  • Comment number 9.

    These areas most certainly do need protection and farmers have not been fairly treated by the last government, they are bogged down by red tape, form filling and other diktats from the EU. Most of the land in question is not suitable for arable crops but will support sheep and some breeds of cattle.

    Without grazing animals huge areas of land would revert to unmanageble scrub. This happens very quickly. Walls and other boundaries would not be maintained. These landscapes which attract so many visitors owe their beauty to those who farm it and if they are to preserved then there must be financial benefit for doing so.

  • Comment number 10.

    If affordable housing is allowed, then it must come with a covenant to be restricted to first home use only, so that people don't buy them as holiday cottages, and thus leave the local people who need houses out of the loop still. Indeed this needs to be done for a lot of new house builds around the country.

    It is also a good idea to encourage tending of the land - these areas are popular tourist spots, and thus any payments made for such work are an investment.

  • Comment number 11.

    Twenty years ago, when they were receiving unlimited subsidies, farmers said they were businessmen running food factorys without walls.

    How times have changed. The end of the subsudy culture and they are now 'guardians of the countryside' do not make me laugh.

    When my kids were little we would go for a drive in the countryside, and there was nowhere to go. We had to travel miles to a 'scenic spot' and discover thousands already there.

    Lets just face facts shall we? Farming does not pay in this country, it never has.

    Lets turn ALL the countryside over to lesure persuits. More forrests, recreation areas, picnic spots etc. Above all do not give anymore money to the most greedy, spiteful and self-pitying moaning subsidy junkies who ever got a government handout.

  • Comment number 12.

    We desperately need to protect our countryside and the many species that are on the verge of dying out. We must also make housing affordable for the people who grow up there and can't afford to stay. But covering more ground with houses causes further environmental damage and invites more people to move into the area. We have to put local people and their children first, followed by people whose work is needed there. If the "affordably housing" just brings overspill from increasingly crowded cities, that doesn't necessarily help the local economy.

    Though we need more people to live and work in the countryside, we don't need more people overall. England is one of the most densely populated countries in the world -- not Britain, but England. Our sprawling towns and cities create a huge burden on the environment. And if we don't tackle overpopulation, all other efforts are a waste of time.

  • Comment number 13.

    All the countryside needs to be potected, Especially from house builders who want to destroy the countryside. Not just the English uplands but all over the UK.

  • Comment number 14.

    Yes more should be done to help rural communities across the whole of England.

    How about some fair funding for a start? The average English person gets around £1600 less funding from central government per year than your average Scot.

    If we're supposed to be a "United Kingdom" let's have equal or very near to equal funding.

  • Comment number 15.

    First- affordable housing: the real problem seems to be that when affordable or social housing is built, it isn't used for community needs.

    Every time new housing of this type has been built in my village it has been used for people from outside the community, usually with no realistic work opportunities, unused to life in a small town/village, and has resulted in serious antisocial behaviour problems.

    There appears to be a belief that by moving problem families into new homes in quiet well ordered communities that the new residents will be rehabilitated. Maybe for some that does happen, for many it does not. The policies of recent years seem too often to be summed up by: 'building yesterdays slums, tomorrow'

    Turning to the uplands and National Parks, these have now become popular areas of leisure, at the same time that the farming activities that created the landscape have become unsustainable.

    We cannot expect the farmers to be subsidised for ever by the usual route- it follows that an alternative subsidy is required to keep the farmers maintaining the landscape. There is no easy way to do this. We need the simplest possible subsidy arrangement, recognising also that every visitor, every walker, teashop customer at present enjoys the landscape for free.

  • Comment number 16.

    To No 5. Alfred Penderal Bright. Heather burning is done during a close season, October to April. It is done to encourage new growth, burn off the old dying wood, replace nutrients and to preserve the habitat for ground nesting birds such as the skylark. It is not as you think, solely for the purpose of grouse shooting. however, the grouse would die out without new growth of heather which is their only food source.

  • Comment number 17.

    If England's uplands are to be managed anything like some of those in Wales, where agri-environment schemes have been running for years, then money paid to farmers will be altogether wasted.

    Yes, we would see new fencing that replaces what should have been replaced donkeys years ago and, where they are found at all, hedgerows laid ruthlessly with a chainsaw and tractor bucket to knock them over, and then tied down against the wind with old baling twine. Otherwise, expect no change at all so far as immediate visual improvements are concerned.

    As to livestock, sheep teeming everywhere, chewing the grasses and heather to the knuckle and generally degrading the landscape by the creation of run-off and soil erosion of bare, cracked surfaces will do nothing to maintain the carbon sink found on peaty ground. The situation gets worse during lambing time, with even more mouths to feed.

    Uplands would be much better off if farmers were, like their lowland cousins, paid to do nothing and set aside areas of land to regenerate naturally and thereby become once again the reservoirs for so much of our rural water supplies. It was only man's influence which has created the mess most uplands are in now.

  • Comment number 18.

    Of course farmers should be paid to look after the countryside. But as the above commentator mentioned, there are farmers whose practices leave a blot on the countryside and as such they should either be removed from what they do or (ideally) offered practical and financial assistance to improve the land they are on.

    Making farmers paid wardens for the land they farm and the areas they live should help alleviate some of the pressure put on our farmers courtesy of Europe and the various farming restrictions they have had to endure.

    We have had decades of complete under investment in the countryside and this does need to be rectified.

    As for the building of new homes - absolutely not! Population density is the problem and this should be managed and reduced before we give over more of our green belt areas for the construction of new homes. More importantly (judging by the village I am from in Somerset and surrounding areas) the "aesthetic" that a lot of rural new build homes is so out of step with the surroundings, that these houses just make a village look ugly.

    If you are going to build homes in the country, they should at least be built using the skills and styles that fit in with the rest of the area i.e. cobb construction or locally stone built. When you have a village full of stone and cobb cottages, nothing looks more appalling than some awful red brick monstrosity.

    This would also aid environmentally as most materials can be sourced locally, the construction is often better and it maintains the traditional methods of rural home construction, providing jobs for localized construction firms.

    Depending on how you implement all of this you could start the process of a rural win-win situation here.

  • Comment number 19.

    8. At 10:59am on 15 Jun 2010, Wasting my time and yours wrote:
    A prize for the first person to blame immigration....

    I see the levity in your comment, but even you have to admit that with over an estimated 1 million people living in the UK illegally (please correct me if i am wrong here), but just where are you gonna put these people.

    Whilst not the biggest problem, there is no denying that this is a factor.

  • Comment number 20.

    I dont think we should subsidize rural communuities anymore. I am all for allowing small scale housing development.

    People choose where they live, if you cant afford to stay, move, there are many places in the UK cheaper to live.

  • Comment number 21.

    I dont think the farmers improve the landscape, rather many of them seem to do everything to dissuade visitors.

    Save the money and allow smal scale developments.

  • Comment number 22.

    England was once completely covered by forest. The landscape we have today almost totally the result of human intervention: everything from farming to the purely aestheic. Just how much do we value the landscape as it is today, and just how much are we prepared to pay someone else to maintain it as it is? Or do we let the uplands revert to their actual natural wooded state? There is a line from a song, you don't know what you've got till its gone. I personally hope that won't be an epitaph for the English countryside.

  • Comment number 23.

    Yes. This is British heritage. We spend billions on inner city hell holes, so helping these British folk is a right.

    Personally I'd like to see a big tax on 2nd, 3rd, etc homes or properties which are vacant more than 45% of the time. The money for which would be used to finance affordable housing for those natives of the area.

  • Comment number 24.

    I must admit that to us townies when we drive out into the countryside the sight of tumbledown barns, derelict tin outbuildings and piles of debris is offensive. But what right have we to tell the farmers and country dwellers to clean up their act.

    It would be great if all farmers etc. took 'The Darling Buds of May' as their blueprint but it just isn't feasible. The idea of roses round the door, pristine cow sheds and poo free animals is wonderful but the reality is that life in the countryside is mucky.

    An incentive for farmers would be a good idea - so lets give it a go.

  • Comment number 25.

    13. At 11:19am on 15 Jun 2010, Bob kerr wrote:

    All the countryside needs to be potected, Especially from house builders who want to destroy the countryside. Not just the English uplands but all over the UK.

    Totally agree. In this case we, as a nation,need to start regenerating the city city hell holes, taxing 2nd homes, stopping out of town type developments and protecting our green and pleasant land. Also there is the question of the "I" word and the fact the country is full.

  • Comment number 26.

    In all honesty some of these rural place would better off being knocked down and rebuilt. While there are some 'pretty' areas that could do some with some TLC and protection the majority are just too ecxlusive and remote that serve only the rich and paying them to keep something exclusive would be ironic wouldn't it?

    Build new communities in these areas and share the housing burden with the rest of the country.

  • Comment number 27.

    The CRC are supposed to know about this sort of thing. If they don't why do we have them; if they do what's the point of this HYS?

  • Comment number 28.

    Rather than pay farmers to keep their sheep on the uplands, which I think is the point of the article, and thereby maintain this uneconomic and environmentally unsound mono-culture, why not buy the land from the farmers, allowing them to retire in comfort, or pension them off if they are tenants, pass the land to the Forestry Commission and let them restore biodiversity and England's natural landscape?

  • Comment number 29.

    You bet they do. Too many sheep by hundreds of thousands. Too many fields growing a useless silage crop which is harvested to stand in ugly black polythene piles for years, sometimes never used (a money making ploy, do doubt). Too many 'townies' moving in and removing anything that grows more than three inches high because it blocks their view (and blocks up their mowers). Too many horses and the trappings that go with them (horrible, unnatural training arenas). I see someone says that leaving the land to go wild would lead to there being inpenetrable scrub in no time. Bring it on. At least it would have some wildlife value unlike the 'deathzone' we currently enjoy.

  • Comment number 30.

    Part of the real problem is weak local economies, which have declined over recent decades due to the absence of common sense policies and the stronger focus on larger towns and business.

    Some well known examples are...

    1. The decline of the rural shop and post offices exacerbated by the removal of key services important to locals.

    2. Unoccupied Second Homes that force up prices, push out locals and contribute little to the local economy (shopping etc)

    3. Poor incomes for farmers, while middle men and supermarkets prosper.

    4. Little historic encouragement on the British holidaying in the UK (tax free airline fuel is no help).

    5. The shortage of living wages in such areas, thus little stimulation for local economies, most income going on essentials.

  • Comment number 31.

    1: Yes, the uplands need management and investment. But the investment should come from the agricultural, country pursuits and tourist industries – not the public purse.

    2: Yes, there should be subsidised housing available for workers in agriculture, forestry and similar occupations but – (a) such housing should be low rise, scattered and in keeping with the local norms and heritage, (b) it should be retained for, and used by, future generations without instant eviction on retirement and (d) it should be administered by a local Agricultural Society – not Councils, Housing Associations and especially not greedy Farmers.

    One further off-topic note for #5 Alfred Penderel Bright:

    Heather is burnt to rid the land of stringy old planting with little nutrition and to get rid of ticks and other harmful insect life. Burning promotes the growth of new cover with more shelter, food value and (as a by product) a more pleasing chocolate box lid appearance for tourists to admire. Grouse are reared as a cash crop to both supplement an estate’s income and to provide employment during the autumn and winter months for otherwise under-remunerated agricultural workers. Further: Shooting is the most humane way to dispatch these birds and the fact that organised Game Shoots attract $’s, €’s and other currencies from abroad is vitally important to the UK plc’s balance of payments.

  • Comment number 32.

    The whole of Britain needs protecting from foreign bodies, like filling a ballon with water, it will expand so far and then it will burst. Britain then will be in such a mess ( come to think of it, we already are )new policies won't save anything.

  • Comment number 33.

    Up here in 3 Peaks land in the Yorkshire Dales National Park some tenant farmers are struggling, but the sales of Range Rovers at the local dealership is healthy, and the grandeur of some farmhouses and converted outbuildings is to be marvelled at. As the area is reasonably accessible, quite a few ‘offcumdens’ have retired to the area and it is also used as a base for long distance commuters to Lancashire and West Yorkshire. However – most bright youngsters reach 18 and leave to go to University never to return, hence there is a lack of people in the 18 to 45 age group, what’s left would have worked on farms or local factories, but now they have minimum wage jobs in tourism or the public sector. Farming represents at most 10% of the local economy.
    We have 4 layers of local bureaucracy – town / parish, district (Craven), county (North Yorkshire) and the National Park. All of them like to stick their oar in and interfere to justify their existence. There is much overlap between these councils – indeed one councillor has changed from Liberal to Independent to Conservative in recent elections to ensure he retains his plum job as National Park chairman. Getting rid of 2 of these layers of administration would be a start, but it will reduce the number of jobs for the boys.
    The landscape of the Dales is entirely man-made – it would be deciduous forest otherwise. Farming in the Dales is at subsistence level – and there are some messy ones about. Paying them to look after the countryside – possibly, but Dales farmers are a wily lot and the cash may well find itself diverted into another Range Rover or a grandiose agricultural workers building so the farmer ‘can keep an eye on a few sheep’ – or sell it to an offcumden.

  • Comment number 34.

    Any subsidies given to farmers will only end up in the pockets of the wealthy land owners, such as the Monarchy, just as the majority of current subsidies end up in the pockets of wealthy land owners.
    It won’t help the small, family farmers who work so hard to protect our countryside it will all be wasted on ivory back scratchers and the like by people who already have enough money as it is.

    Farming in this country is a joke, big agri-corporations have bought out loads of farms and turned them into soulless factory farms that rely on growth hormones for the animals and oil-based fertilisers for the crops and all we end up getting out of them is sub-standard rubbish that isn't worth eating, causes animals to live a miserable existence and ruins the land and rivers of the surrounding area.

    All of the high quality producers who care about their land and the crops and animals that live on them have been squeezed out of the industry by the triple evils of low quality imports, aggressive agri-corporations and the immoral actions of our supermarkets.

    The Queen and Prince Charles received a total of more than £1m in EU farm subsidies in the past two years, it was revealed yesterday.
    The figure emerged as the government for the first time published the amount of subsidy each farmer in Britain receives, after a request from the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.

    It showed that major landowners receive the largest subsidies from the taxpayer. Seventeen farmers and agricultural enterprises received more than £1m each last year in help from the taxpayer.

    The figures also reveal that hundreds of millions of pounds go to subsidise the UK's agricultural exports, while many developing countries are unable to compete, adding to the huge debt facing Africa.

    The largest export subsidy goes to Tate and Lyle, which over two years received £233m from the taxpayer to sell sugar overseas - way above the next company on the list.


    Phillip of England wrote:
    I see the levity in your comment, but even you have to admit that with over an estimated 1 million people living in the UK illegally (please correct me if i am wrong here), but just where are you gonna put these people.

    Where do you think they're living now Phillip ?

    Even if we were to assume that those million people require homes, which most of them don't, then we could always put them into the empty homes that are all over the country as this article clearly demonstrates;

    The Empty Homes Agency estimates that there are 840,000 empty homes in the UK. National Land Use Database figures indicate that a further 420,000 homes could be established in disused commercial properties in England, including former pubs and space above shops. This adds up to more than one million additional homes – which would make up a third of the Government’s three million target.

  • Comment number 35.

    I feel a Quango coming on!

  • Comment number 36.

    If you can afford to live in the country then you can afford to pay for its upkeep.

    If you can't then move to the nearest town.

  • Comment number 37.

    Ban 2nd homes they are a luxury this country Can not afford, they do nothing for the economic viability of country village post offices and stores they need buisness 12 months of year in order to survive. The same people who own 2 or more homes are the same people who are first to moan if it is proposed to build new homes near their main home.How many more close knit communities and families have to be destroyed because of this greed .

  • Comment number 38.

    Preserve the natural beauty of this countries uplands? How about letting it revert to how it really should be. FORESTS!

    There is nothing natural about the plant and animal life in Lakes, The North Yorkshire Moors or the Yorkshire dales. They are all purely manmade environments. If you let nature take it's course. You'd also have the double whammy of beautiful forests and, wait for it, less flooding in low lying areas!

    Not to mention more varied wildlife. And Carbon offset.

    The Moors et al, are a blank canvas. I don't know about you. But I'd rather look at a painting (well, maybe my great grand daughter, should I have one, might.) And get this. The only thing we have to do is. LEAVE THEM ALONE!

  • Comment number 39.

    Protect them from what? The main problem with hill communities is that they tend to have to rely on farming, and the income they can generate is pitiful. In the more beautiful upland areas the communities are diversifying, mainly into Tourist related fields, be it by offering bed and breakfasts, Afternoon teas, ice cream etc. I recently went up to the Lake district via the A66 from Scotch Corner and the trend was clear.
    What isn't helping is putting up wind turbines all over the place, it gives a bit of income to the farmer who's land the turbinbe is on, but adversely affects the area as far as Tourism is concerned.
    Whay would rely help the hill communities would be faster braodband speeds, which would allow service industries to develop.

  • Comment number 40.

    Actually, the EU are failing many farming and countryside communities in UK? Why? The National Farmers Union do have the expertise and huge income to represent all farming communities from the UK in Europe, BUT perhaps they are meeting resistance from EU Farming and Farming disaster grants?

    Unfortunately, the EU contribution from UK is disproportionate to grants and funds available actually claimed on the European Continent?

    In other words - we pay huge amounts to EU, but our UK public bodies are so incompetent they have know idea what EU Funds are available for flood disasters etc., etc.? Therefore, if you belong to club like the EU and pay your subscription/insurance - you would expect to be advised of your rights to claim - hmm?

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    Our EU contribution covers protection of all areas in UK as happens in all other EU countries areas of ecological importance?

    We, in UK, pay billions to EU whose all countries use alloted funds to protect their choice of areas of special interest? Therefore, UK Gov should demand a proportion of those funds to protect our country's areas of conservation too?!

  • Comment number 43.

    Another report, another quango!

    Hopefully another one for the chop too!

    Nothing like getting paid to state the obvious, or if you are a farmer getting paid to look after your farm!

  • Comment number 44.

    England's Upland areas are already protected - in fact there are enormous grants available from the EU. If upland farmers, CRC or the NFU don't know how to access this huge pot of money - then they might want to complain to the NFU, and the EU agricultural fund?

  • Comment number 45.

    The sheep looks after the fells; the farmer looks after the sheep; the taxpayer looks after the farmer.
    That's the upland rural economy, in a nutshell.

  • Comment number 46.

    I would like our uplands to be returned to forest as they were a thousand years ago. Managed mixed woodland would be far more productive, not to mention more ecologically sound, than sheep farming.

  • Comment number 47.

    Well, surprise, surprise! We have countryside down here, too, but because we're in south-east England, and so close to London, we get overlooked and ignored.
    We desperately need protection for our countryside and affordable housing for local families, but our countryside is rapidly but surely disappearing under housing dedicated to poor hard-done-by Londoners!
    Would someone please come and look at the predicament we're in, or don't we qualify because we're lumped in with London?

  • Comment number 48.

    Whats the point, they're going to be covered in thousands of useless wind turbines anyway.

  • Comment number 49.

    There needs to be vigorous action against the government, landowners and the energy companies to stop the spread of wind farms.
    Not only are they useless (someone PLEASE explain to the government that the wind doesn't blow in response to electricity need), and actually INCREASE CO2 due to the inefficient way in which the backup generating capacity needs to be managed to take account of the erratic and occaional output from wind farms. Not only that but they are a permanent hazard to birds of prey; and of course they blight the landscape for tens of miles around and require additional high voltage lines to get to the existing national grid.
    To add insult to injury, we are actually SUBSIDISING them, as the last government, and unless I hear otherwise this one as well, perceive them as being 'green' and a 'renewable resource'.

  • Comment number 50.

    8. At 10:59am on 15 Jun 2010, Wasting my time and yours wrote:

    A prize for the first person to blame immigration....



  • Comment number 51.

    Your article states "An inquiry found areas such as the Lake District, Dartmoor and the North Yorkshire Moors are impoverished".

    Of course they are. The land is barren, windswept, bleak and treeless, and all that grows there is gorse and heather. It's fit only for sheep and goats, and you can't make a living from either. No wonder no sane person wants to live there.

    Even more depressing than those landscapes is the amount of taxpayers' cash being swallowed by yet another quango in an exercise of stating the bleeding obvious.

  • Comment number 52.

    It's true that the Prince of Wales and the Queen benefit from EU subsidies?

    However, the flooded communities and farmland flooded last year are also due EU subsidies - but no-one is telling them? Why is that?

  • Comment number 53.

    Why not pay them to grow food? Why do we have to import our food?
    Or are we looking at ways of supporting the idle rich?

  • Comment number 54.

    24. At 12:06pm on 15 Jun 2010, thomas wrote:
    "...It would be great if all farmers etc. took 'The Darling Buds of May' as their blueprint but it just isn't feasible."
    Quite right: there aren't enough Catherine Zeta-Jones's to go round.
    Good idea! Save the beautiful uplands of this country. You could pay for it with a congestion charge for everybody clogging up the Peak District with their big ugly cars every Sunday for a start!

  • Comment number 55.

    Yes, upland areas need to be protected for their amenity value and we probably need to subsidise the hill farmers who look after the land.

    But what we don't want is the quasi-religious fanatics (most politicians kow-towing to the green lobby) covering our upland areas with wind turbines in order to claim vast public subsidies for an inefficient system of power generation.

  • Comment number 56.

    They need protecting but it is important that we identify what the problems are and what causes them. Farmers can be the ones that are involved in helping but they should only be paid when they have sorted problems and not given money "carte blanche".

  • Comment number 57.

    Affordable housing should be affordable. Just because it costs less than other houses doesn't mean it's actually affordable. On the average national wage, a 60,000 quid house is affordable, a 150,000 quid one isn't, even though it's "cheap" when compared to rather a lot of other ones.

    And yes, paying farmers to help preserve the countryside is an excellent idea. It'll give them a bit of additional income on top of the paltry money the supermarkets pay them.

  • Comment number 58.

    53 Davidethics. 'Why dont we pay them to grow food', because David, the land in question is NOT suitable for growing food other than meat, ie sheep and some cattle.

    We do not have to import anything like the amount of food that we do. If British farmers were supported by the consumer and not undercut in price by the big four supermarkets we would be a lot more self sufficient.

    Try buying British next time you shop.

  • Comment number 59.

    Farmers get enough EC subsidies. There are a lot of poorer people around both in the country and in the cities who have greater needs. Give to the needy, not the greedy and dismantle the Common Agriculture Policy.

  • Comment number 60.

    Most of the uplands would not be forested if left alone - or at best very stunted and scrubby forest. Function not so much of height (UK does not really have major mountains) more a case of nothing to stop the wind.

    I like roast lamb so the more sheep the better.

    Of course the townies want the nice uplands opened up to rambling but if anything goes wrong the farmer pays. When you agree to all your back gardens being accessable as well and you freely accept we can trample over your flower beds with impunity maybe I will listen

  • Comment number 61.

    All of our countryside needs immediate protection!
    We have a situation now where 'affordable' homes have been an excuse for developers to pump out trashy, cheaply made, high density houses on every unprotected blade of grass. (And even some which were supposed to be protected!)
    The next excuse will be to build 'eco towns' when we should be creating more wildlife reserves to replace the areas lost to developnet over the past 20-30 years.
    How about making a massive 'Eden Project' in the china clay area in Cornwall, we have the experiece and technology now.
    Tell the developers to get lost!

  • Comment number 62.

    8. At 10:59am on 15 Jun 2010, Wasting my time and yours wrote:

    A prize for the first person to blame immigration....

    I win then. Immigration is one of the reasons why we'll have between 85 - 105 million people in the UK by 2081 ( Which, worst case scenario, is an increase 42 million on today's population. So, Mr Head in the Sand, where shall we build the 5 and 1/2 new cities the Size of Greater London which will be required to accommodate such an increase?

  • Comment number 63.

    59. At 5:12pm on 15 Jun 2010, Adrian Swall wrote:

    Farmers get enough EC subsidies. There are a lot of poorer people around both in the country and in the cities who have greater needs. Give to the needy, not the greedy and dismantle the Common Agriculture Policy.

    OK, fair point, now whose going to produce the food to feed these same people if we keep driving out the Framers and building on agricultural land? Perhaps we can ask the 3rd world to produce even more food for us, while their population starve?

  • Comment number 64.

    Reports say that Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was present at the time of the violence and "probably armed with a sub machine gun". The families of the bereaved are now lining up to be photographed with him and celebrate their so called victory.. What hypocrisy, and to think that he is now being paid by British tax payers as a "Politician".
    As for Cameron, a disgraceful statement less than a week after grabbing his photo stunt with troops in Afghanistan.

  • Comment number 65.

    57. At 4:38pm on 15 Jun 2010, starlinguk wrote:

    Affordable housing should be affordable.

    There'd be no need for "affordable" housing had Brown (as chancellor) kept his promise in his 1997 budget speech ( House price inflation based on greed, is the primary reason this country is in the mess today. Personal debt is *still* out off control, yet house prices are still rising at 10% which people think is good! Average salary is around £29k, so going by the "old" way to calculate how much to borrow, two average earners (£60k pa) would be able, with a 10% deposit, to get £180k mortgage (3xjoint income), £200k in most decent places would not buy you a flat. Of cause most people earn less than the national average, so we have what we have now.

  • Comment number 66.

    I agree these places need protecting but i don't think farmers should be payed to do it,i'm sure many people would be happy to do it for free.

  • Comment number 67.

    The best way forward is surely to ask the rural communities themselves, simple

    daniel zane

  • Comment number 68.

    I have lived and worked in the Lake District National Park for over 10 years, and my experience from a strategic planning perspective can be summed us as "no, what's the question".

    There exists a plethora of planning documents - Local Plan, Structural Plan, and now a new overarching Regional Spatial Strategy. In my experience, these "plans" are supposed to define a clear and specific approach to what can be done, and under what circumstances. The plans are enacted through Parliament, and are designed to last for a specific period of time (can't recall if it was 5 or 10 years). By defining what you can do, they are supposed to stop planners from saying no to options that are not specifically prohibited.

    After the given time period, a new plan would pass through the same process and set the planning criteria for the next time period. The idea was to create stability for those who wished to develop their properties and businesses, and allow professionals like architects to draw up proposals, and plans with a high degree of certainty that if they followed the rules, an application would pass.

    The reality is far different. When I sought to expand my business, the answer was NO; when I sought to expand my home, the answer was NO; when I sought reallocate my business premises into a a partial domestic dwelling, the answer was NO; when I sought to build a new house on land that I owned, the answer was NO - this in the teeth of an official housing survey for my parish that said there was a local need to build seven homes. Excuses ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, the best of which was that as the "current plan" only had a year to run and might change in a way that prohibited my scheme, the answer was - you guessed it - NO.

    Is it any wonder that the LDNP is in danger of becoming preserved in aspic. The other wheeze the LDNPA have come up with is to consider applying for World Heritage status - to the dismay of virtually erveybody who works and lives here. Supporters of the scheme come from bodies like "Friends of the Lake District" who seem to me to have some sepia tinted view of what the Park should be like - foremost of which is the wholesale removal of people and a harking back to a world portrayed in Beatrix Potter fiction.

    Reports are all well and good, but national park planning authorities are not subject to local authority control, but national authority - thus ensuring local needs can be ignored if it suits. To overcome a NO is immensely time consuming and costly. I know of one instance where the LDNPA was determined to thwart a plan centred in Grasmere. The LDNPA said no, but an appeal said yes. However, the LDNPA was not going to give up. Never mind they were short of money and closing down all their Tourist Information Centres, a figure in excess of £400,000 was found to fight the appeal judgement.

    I can't believe that the aforementioned report thinks the various National Park authorities should be given more powers. Given their virtual unaccountability, and poor record of serving those who live and work in the parks, I can't see much hope for those youngsters born and brought up in the LDNP. Their only hope of finding affordable homes is to move to satellite towns like Dalton.

    What the LDNP needs are job opportunities, and housing for those doing the jobs. When I see a "strategic plan" with that at its heart, I'll know somebody is taking the problem seriously, otherwise it's just so many trees being chopped down to write reports nobody reads, or does anything about.

  • Comment number 69.

    I read with interest that farmers preserve the uplands. I seem to remember,on a recent trip to Cumbria, reading that the reason that the mountains appear as bare and rocky as they do is due to soil erosion caused by centuries of sheep grazing, not because of altitude or climate. Left alone they would revert to scrub and eventually woodland, assuming recovery was possible. Similarly on Dartmoor. Maybe we need to give some of our uplands time to recover from farming, rather than encouraging farmers to preserve the uplands in their current state.

  • Comment number 70.

    Why don't "market forces" ever apply to farmers and bankers. I thoroughly agree with #1 Alba al who points out their track record. The lobbyist for the farming interests have continually helped them take tax payers money for doing very little instead of modernising their businesses, and after a whole centuary we still import the same percentage of our food as we did in Edwardian times.

  • Comment number 71.

    "Uplands Entry Level Stewardship (Uplands ELS)
    Uplands ELS is a new strand of Environmental Stewardship, launched in February 2010, to support hill farmers with payments for environmental management. It is open to all farmers with land in Severely Disadvantaged Areas (SDA), regardless of the size of your holding and including those farming organically"
    This is just one of the payments that farmers receive - Look at the "Natural England" and DEFRA sites!
    The farmers and country landowners are one of the most powerful and wealthy lobbyists both in Parliament and EEC.
    Perhaps if tax payers knew how much was paid to farmers and landowners, then there would be not so many complaints about benefits paid to the poorest of this country!

  • Comment number 72.

    Sorry BBC to go off track here but why on earth are we not having a debate about President Obama mentioning BP and 9 / 11 in the same sentence.

    The man has completely lost the plot.

  • Comment number 73.

    At 7:53pm on 15 Jun 2010, notfooledsteve wrote:
    after a whole centuary we still import the same percentage of our food as we did in Edwardian times.

    Which considering the population is now many times higher than it was in Edwardian times and the available land space hss shrunk considerably, is a considerable achievement...

  • Comment number 74.

    What's all this about affordable homes? Too many people in this overcrowded island, don't you mean. That is what the government needs to concentrate on.

  • Comment number 75.

    9. At 11:01am on 15 Jun 2010, Lynn from Sussex wrote:
    " These areas most certainly do need protection ..... Most of the land in question is not suitable for arable crops but will support sheep and some breeds of cattle."
    I agree. But what about the farmers' vandalism in your own beautiful South Downs in Sussex - where some of the downland that was used for centuries as grazing, has now been ploughed up to grow cash crops to provide, perhaps, even more cash from your 'bete noire', the EU?
    "Without grazing animals huge areas of land would revert to unmanageble scrub. This happens very quickly. Walls and other boundaries would not be maintained. These landscapes which attract so many visitors owe their beauty to those who farm it."
    But don't some of these guardians of the countryside over-drain it - to grow the very arable crops you and I agree aren't suitable, with the result that when it rains the valleys are more and more frequently flooded. Not all dwellers of the valley bottom settlements in the Yorkshire Dales, for example, welcome the farmers' activities.
    There has to be a proper balance between allowing Nature to create her own superior form of beauty, and on the other hand maintaining the manufactured beauty of neat stone walls and harmlessly babbling brooks that adorn chocolate-box lids. There has to be room for both, but I do often wonder why farmers seem to delight in littering their land with rickety stuctures, rusting sheets of corrugated iron, and piles of old tyres.

  • Comment number 76.

    Recovery of hill country is achieved by tree planting, which attracts wild animals and plants and reverses er

  • Comment number 77.

    I love the hills and high mountains. I hate the lack of wild vegetation on them however. Go to Glen Affric or Glen Feshie in the highlands to see just how beautiful "unmanagable scrub" is. I think you would soon agree that in some areas we need to remove grazing altogether, in some drastically reduce it with suiatble incentives, and in others maintain high economically sustainable levels of stocking. It's far from a black and white issue, there are many shades of grey. I hope to live to see swathes of native broadleaf trees on the Pennines. I reckon 50 years should do it :-)

  • Comment number 78.

    The uplands are part and parcel of the British Isles and a very amazing part. The Heathlands are amongst the rarest in the world and the most beautiful. The Peat filters waters that drain of the moors. A landscape made over thousands of years.Many times I have been on the Yorshire Moors and never seen them appear to me as the same, each season brings somthing different and wonderful. We have been graced with somthing special that can never be achieved by man. We must protect all our wildspots once gone they will never return

  • Comment number 79.

    Yes and preferably from government. The last government spent much time appeasing the urban masses and left the countryside to fend for its self. Labour and its planning laws have enabled the urban masses to buy housing in the countryside as holiday homes and this has had the greatest ill effect. I am in complete agreement with the Welsh actions in the 70's when to come home to a real fire was to own a cottage in Wales. The best thing that the government can do for the countryside is to make owning holiday houses a very expensive business as this is what is breaking up communities and reducing the housing stock. As to paying farmers to look after the countryside maybe if our farmers had the same subsidies as the French and EU give the continentals then the problem would not exist.

  • Comment number 80.

    Yes there is great concern UNTIL the next batch of housing for our insanely swelling population.

  • Comment number 81.

    I'm surprised it took a commission to work that out, the problem on Dartmoor is that keeping livestock on the open more has become unviable the cost and effort of looking after beasts on the moor is in excess of what they are worth. As soon as stock is removed, gorse, heather or ling start making greater inroads choking any other sort of plant life, the stock and controlled burning known as swaling keep the landscape as we are used to seeing it.

    Together with idiotic speeding cars, which regularly run over the livestock, piles of rubbish everywhere and complete ignorance when controlling pet dogs our upland areas are indeed under threat, building houses on them will not make it any better, paying farmers to do what they have done for centuries cannot be a bad idea. I see a number of comments citing farmers as causing eyesores, and yes there are those that have no appreciation of where they live, but the vast majority are careful and kmowledgeable. Knowledgeable to a far greater extent than some jumped up townie barking orders. There needs to be some kind of countryside stewardship and less building, the country is already way overpopulated and already has quite a number of empty properties and sites, best to use these up first rather than ruining another stretch of countryside or national park.

  • Comment number 82.

    It's the cities that need protecting not the uplands.

    Unlimited building, graffiti, violence and ghettoes need tackling first!

  • Comment number 83.

    It would be good if, instead of always framing minority interests, we looked at the whole, what is destroying the whole, and what would be good in making the whole better.

    Who are the key players at the moment? Big retail businesses versus agriculture and supply. Tourism versus conservation. Access versus restriction and privacy. Overpopulation versus privilege. Low incomes versus the rest.

    Once you spot the "killers" the remedies seem a little more obvious.

  • Comment number 84.

    Yes they do need saving. But in a farmed landscape are farmers really the best ones to do that? Is this not an opportunity to turn the uplands into vibrant multi stock units rather than the same sheep. Let us get different and rare breeds of sheep and even goats on to these uplands.

    As for paying farmers dont they already get enough? And if it is not enough they can always leave and find other jobs.

  • Comment number 85.

    What worries most about building new houses is the complete lack of infrastructure to support them. However environmental you are, you have to accept that new houses necessitate new roads and public transport links. Will we ever learn from previous town planning disasters?

  • Comment number 86.

    61. UnluckyBrit wrote:
    All of our countryside needs immediate protection!
    Protection from whom?

    I was always told there was no such thing as a poor farmer, just a bad one.

    This island was once covered in forest, that is the 'natural' landscape.

    I do not think this government should give a single penny to a bunch of self-obsessed, money grabing parasites.

    Lets return the uplands to their original 'natural' landscape and open them up for all the public to enjoy. Go to the countryside now and stray ten feet from the road and you get some red-faced yokel brandishing a shotgun shouting 'get orf my laaand!'.

  • Comment number 87.

    No - how on earth are we going to pay for yet more Government handouts or subsidies to people? We have a welfare system for those in poverty regardless of where they live. Creating yet another system which will be full of bureaucracy and management is a waste of precious resources we don't have. I would also suggest cutting the CRC - there are many countryside lobbying groups that exist without Government funding.

  • Comment number 88.

    There has to be change and help for rural dwellers or the vast majority will abandon the countryside not protect it,forget all the opinionated townies or occasional vistors. Fact,the rural workers are the lowest paid in the UK,have no choice of housing(even if you could find any) and very few services due to the large retail outlets and supermarkets undercutting rural shops and business.Fact,a huge number of properties are second homes in the rural areas where the owners visit occasionly thus letting councils cut out vital services and jobs.Yes,the countryside needs protection-it needs protection from government and pencil pushers!We dont ask for much and in the last 10 years we have got less and less.Forget the nimbys because these people will still be complaining when they are the only people left in the countryside with no services,neighbours,pubs or shops-but of course they will be able to look out over unmanaged farm land whilst driving on roads with grass growing through the pot holes-ahh! Englands green and pleasent land.

  • Comment number 89.

    when i drive home out of the open sewer that manchester has now become toward bury the green hills in the distance used to be a comforting site ..this is no longer the case as they have blighted this distant view with an enormous wind farm that does nt even cover its own cost no one asked me or any one who has to look on this.
    to escape this i head for the dales , a National park anything that would give farmers the right to exploit there land in this way or put new estates on it will DAMAGE our ENGLISH heritage even further....though the planners are undoubtedly eyeing our green area s planning for the untold millions heading this way ..especially when Tutkey enters the EU..HOW LONG BEFORE THE EU HAS THE POWER TO DICTATE THE USE OF OUR NATIONAL PARKS

  • Comment number 90.

    There sre lots of things wrong with our upland landscape that people don't understand. For example, land slash drainage and changing peat bogs and heather moor to grassland, are major causes of flooding, wildlife destruction and poverty. Many of the small farms living on subsidies are permanently unviable.

    Those who have advocated turning much of the uplands back into forest have a point. Making a forest generates at least as much work and income as poor sheep grazing, with tremendous opportunities for tourist income. However like everything else that has been tried, there is a great potential to get it all wrong and do more harm than good - as our great plantations of foreign pines can show. The problem is vision and a great deal of time and the will to get things right.

  • Comment number 91.

    It goes without question that it should be protected.
    Our countryside is unbeliveably beautiful and should be kept so.
    Pay the Farmers? I say YES.
    Stop the building of uneeded supermarkets in these areas? I say YES.
    Comment No.5 is wrong. The burning of heather is done for a purpose of which this person seems to know naught about.


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