Changing landscapes

Changing landscapes
April 19, 2015 Richard Brackenbury
I was in the Peak District yesterday. It was a fantastic day and we enjoyed a really good walk from the “Cat and Fiddle Pub”, along the moorland path after Shining Tor down into the Goyt Valley and ultimately back to Buxton where the car had been left.

The journey to Buxton had been glorious. Crossing from Chesterfield, the road skirted Chatsworth Park went through Bakewell and then followed the A6 up the Wye Valley. However, towards the end, there glimpses of some of the massive quarrying activity which takes place right up to the edge of the National Park. The contrast was acute between that glorious scenery changing literally at a field’s edge to huge industrial scars. A literally changed landscape.

Never a day goes by currently without someone talking about the “political landscape” and the changes likely after May 7th’s election. Those scenes started me thinking whether that changed landscape could affect the one laid out in front of me.

Well, first there was that quarried landscape. Most if not all of what is extracted from those chasms is used in the construction industry. All the main political parties seem to vie with each other in their promises to build new housing. A Good Thing. But, will any increase that follows affect the encroachment on such countryside concern to improve the population’s quality of life make sure that the Peak District (and the other national parks) are protected from further encroachment? And, where will all those houses go?

I suppose the same point could be made in relation to wind farms. Driving back towards the southern edge of the Peak District one could see wind turbines appearing. Nothing horrendous yet (apart from the set on the skyline above Carsington – which can be seen from within the Park) but is this a sign of things to come? On the same issue, I do not know the northern Pennines as well but I was up in Durham last year where it seemed every hilltop was covered in these things. I know there is an issue about carbon consumption which, unless checked, could itself damage what green space we have left. But, where does the balance lie and where, on that balance, do the different political parties lie?

And then there is the issue of subsidy for the arts. There has been much talk about “protected” budgets for education and health. Of course, the arts cannot claim priority over the rest when it comes to competing for the depleted funds that will remain but, when one sees the spectacle of some politicians competing to attack the “elitism” of the arts generally and specifically the social background of some currently high profile actors, one could be forgiven for a degree of pessimism.

I could expand this list and really get going into “my grumpy old man act.” And, I know that the few examples above could lay me open to an accusation of “nimbyism.” My point is that I would be a lot more confident about preserving what, to me, is really important if such decisions were taken after properly balancing all the competing interests and not because short term political opportunism leads to promises everyone might regret when the reality dawns.