Last Friday I did a talk in a Devon seaside town, the evening was beautiful and the door was left open as I ploughed through photos of the arboreal delights of Devon. During a wee intermission I had the misfortune to engage in a conversation with a little old lady who was attending – I was sickened by her comments, which led on from the need to grow local provenance trees into a rascist rant from her, which I cannot bring myself to repeat… The saddest thing is that this is not uncommon – it is what to expect of England now! And this is the direct result of the appallingly crap mainstream media of the UK.
Very belatedly there is talk of finally trying to toughen up border security to prevent the flow of pests and diseases brought in on plants imported from within the EU – with blame firmly attached to UK membership of the EU for a failure to do so up till now! This is pure nonsense! The UK had the right to install suitable measures since 2009. Why it choose not to is probably better answered by the horticultural industry and some of our NGOs! This nonsense was not only spouted on BBC4’s Today programme but also within the RFS journal and is just as much nonsense as the ludicrous claim that there are more ancient trees in Britain than in France and Germany put together.
It all plays rather neatly into the hands of the unscrupulous councils, NGOs, businesses and other organisations that see a carte blanche as a very wonderful way of making lots of money. Indeed Sheffield City Council and its’ brazen ignoring of the Aarhus convention are leading the way with their street trees for biomass scheme in partnership with Amey. Brexit will be abused, no matter what promises are made.
I am, despite being trolled and called some of the most offensive names I have ever been called because my twitter hashtag contains ‘European’ in it, actually no big fan of the EU, which clearly needs some serious work to live up to it’s burgeoning reputation in the UK as a symbol of anti-fascism. Having witnessed first hand the influence Syngenta has within its funded research as well as the poor handling of mass tree felling in Poland, Czech and Romania, one cannot but question its stance on human rights easily, even though it is an area I have no experience or information about.
But this doesn’t excuse the UK seemingly choosing Brexit as an excuse to rip up all the rulebooks and continue to chase the ‘Singapore of Europe’ dream, because this will ultimately have disastrous results on the UK landscape.
The UK is in a position to genuinely lead the world; it is the first country to take the plunge into a world where sustainability has to work and it is best placed to do so having been the first to see the agricultural and industrial revolutions through to their inevitable conclusions. It has the geography, geology and range of landscapes to be able to research and further land management sustainably for the benefit of all.
But it is abundantly clear that ‘for the benefit of all’ is a phrase that is simply no longer relevant in this country that has so much to offer but nothing it wants to give.