Perhaps 70 years ago when the first National Parks were created, they were managed with an understanding of the countryside, farming practises and those whose lives and living, fell within and around their boundaries.
National Parks like Dartmoor, Exmoor, Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons, New Forest, Northumberland and the Cairngorms, were areas of isolated wilderness, miles from urbanisation.
The South Down National Park with its vast population in and around, are encouraged by the Park Authority, despite being 85per cent privately owned and farmed, to treat the land within its boundaries as their municipal park.
Far from protecting wildlife and ‘precious landscapes’, by increasing public access and sense of entitlement, wildlife habitats are destroyed, dogs foul the pastures, introduce disease, and attack the livestock. The humans leave gates open, cut fences and think nothing of dumping their litter in fields and gateways.
Mr Gove should think very carefully before going down this path. He and Downing Street aide Julian Glover, recently commissioned to identify potential candidates, must consult the right people before creating another disaster.
The objective to protect the countryside, could well have the opposite effect, by driving away and putting out of business the very people who for centuries have created and nurture the landscape so admired; namely working farmers.
Without doubt creating National Parks is a form of land nationalisation by the back door. The authorities which run them have little regard for the landowners, giving priority to the public rather than those whose livelihoods and futures depend upon the profitability of their farms, including adapting for the 21st Century.
Farmers know how to manage the countryside and their land, bureaucrats do not. Farmers contribute hugely to feeding the nation, undeniably a public good. Encouraging the public to roam freely damaging nature’s infrastructure is not environmentally sustainable.
England already has 10 national parks, more combined with his ‘environmental’ direction of travel, is concerning. Mr Gove is increasingly sounding like Margaret Beckett, who in 2002 as Labour’s DEFRA minister recommended switching the main purpose of agriculture from food production to conserving the countryside.
Fortunately Mrs Beckett’s vision to cease all UK food production and turn the British countryside into one big theme park, where she could park her caravan never materialised. Is Mr Gove heading in this direction?
He has a willing accomplice in Mrs Paren, chairman of the South Downs National Park and National Parks England, who said when hearing of his plans to expand the stable of national parks, “We very much welcome the announcement of the review and intend to play a full part.” We should be very worried.
It is deeply concerning that paid representatives of agricultural trade organisations are inflicting their negative Brexit views upon farmers, some of whom are already concerned due to the current uncertainties.
Recently I witnessed a 15 minute tirade of negativity regarding the future of British agriculture, with visions of no overseas markets, no trade deals or support for livestock producers, from someone who should know better.
Committed Remoaners should not allow their politics to influence their judgement, and more importantly spread unjustified doom and gloom within the industry, hoping the Referendum will be reversed.
Instead of recognising opportunities, encouraging optimism, doing their job and representing the sector by pioneering new markets, they pedal project fear, depress expectations and their captive audiences. Thus leaving the more vulnerable and concerned farmers heading for Beachy Head or a quiet corner of their farms with a shotgun.
When suicides amongst farmers continue to average one a week, such negative outpourings are totally unacceptable.