In the lead up to the jubilee the patriotic feelings within many Britons rises, particularly after crushing defeat at the Eurovision song contest, which saw some absurdly passionate ‘anti Europe’ warlike tweets and comments, silly because a continent that has seen so much war and where now Eurovision as with football, probably more than anything else illustrate the healthy competition but peacefulness of this continent.
The Brits can rival any other in patriotism. But Britain is not the Motherland or Fatherland, it is not a new country struggling to shout its worth. It is country with a principle of being ‘ours’.
‘And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?’
And as Britain has progressed since the time of the Magna Carta into the multicultural state it is now, it has done so by installing a sense of place for its people – one that is perhaps even stronger in the home countries. A few hiccups along the way certainly, which provide valuable case study for all land management students, caused by a parliament pandering to the occasional misguided landlord who wanted more than the very soft British feudal system could give them.
The Enclosure Acts and other painfully regressive policy installed a system that for a while disenfranchised people with a landscape inherently theirs. Protest was not muted it was loud but unbloody. In 1932 the Kinder Scout mass trespass was successful in providing access rights for all but was not enough to temper a growing sense of ‘mine’ as the aristocracy changed into a ‘high class’ of those simply more wealthy. But the planning system, complicated and in need of revision as it was, still provided for the voice of us who see the landscape as ours. Does the replacement of this by the NPPF and its ‘localism’ really provide for this or actually create more problems by ensuring new discussion on needed discussion – will the public finally get an affirmed voice in procedure? The European Landscape Convention, (written with considerable help from British academics who had studied and understood the sense of ‘our landscape’ and thus introduce it as a workable and soft approach for land management planning for a peaceful Europe and by doing so ensure the longevity of such peace) was there to help not hinder in getting policy makers heads around the issue.
The Coalition are being lobbied by a business world who are far too entrenched in an American or nouveau riche system ‘money earned by whatever means = power and privilege’, including owning land when such a concepy which does not translate into a small and shared landscape.
Yesterdays protest by the Tree Savers Group for Whitstable was passionate and successful because it was correct. The demands to Network Rail were far from unreasonable; the need for independent ecological assessment and fair consultation should be standard procedure in a modern democracy and such process is being advocated to many developing countries by the UK. And further with proof that the proposed work is being carried out based on research superseded by contrary good research then there is clearly a need for additional research, which will help in installing a standard system everyone is in agreement with.
Network Rail were not upholding their ‘pledge’ on their own website and it is fairly clear that the intervention of an independent consultant from the RSPB confirmed the site in question to contain or possibly contain breeding birds and as such the protest actually helped prevent Network Rail in committing a crime. They should be thankful.
Protest is not the duty of the NGOs, (particularly when they join in the closed door negotiations or policy planning meetings), but they are clearly needed to help in the consultation process that protestor’s request by legal right as the RSPB proved all too clearly yesterday.
In these days of austerity the monumental waste of money in refusing to acknowledge the absolute necessity of talking with those whose landscape is affected is just plain daft and very expensive.
You cannot dispel or manipulate the principle of ‘our’ in terms of landscape and elements within. It is recognised as the base for progressive land management across the globe but invariably gets tied up within heavy publications about the rights of indigenous people or human rights and landscape and a library of subsequent bureaucracy. The ‘Tree Savers’ of Whitstable proved yet again that there is no further need to study this, it is printed within the psyche of our nation they were protecting their landscape. It was enviable, it was ‘So British’.