Another News and Views Miscellany

by David Murray on 25 January 2011

in Agriculture, Outdoor equipment, Walking

Looking at the variety of “Lake District and North” topics  about which I’ve “tweeted” on Twitter recently a few have triggered thoughts too long to express in 140 characters. So here’s another opinion piece.

Elm Replanting

We’ll start in central Lancashire. The avenue of elms at Riverside Walk in Miller Park, Preston had been there for over a hundred and fifty years.  Generations of Preston people had enjoyed them.  Last year, however, the avenue was struck down by Dutch Elm disease.  This was a serious loss to the town and its Victorian heritage.  The news that  replanting with disease-resistant elms will shortly be completed is very welcome.

Proposed Conservation Area

I notice that there is a proposal to make part of Windermere village a conservation area.  The consultation period is now over, and in any case as an outsider I probably don’t have much right to comment, but I shall.  It’s not that I’m opposed to “conservation areas”.  Many of them have prevented serious damage to local heritage. Sadly, however, they are sometimes abused by the authorities. There are big risks for the local community. Petty-minded officials can put unnecessary obstacles in the way of perfectly reasonable improvements and even necessary repairs to buildings.

They can also be seriously inconsistent. In another part of the country with which I’m familiar a local church wanted to replace its carpark fence but was told it could not erect the type that it wanted.  When it was pointed out that the design was identical to that around the next-door building owned by the local authority they were told that local government was exempt from the rules!  Consistency? Equal treatment? What’s that? Eventually the church won the argument, but for a while was told that they’d need to apply again, and pay yet another fee for the privilege.  Revenue raising?  Taxation by the back door? By all means protect the heritage, but without this kind of nonsense.

Lost in the hills after dark.

Twice in the past couple of weeks I’ve read of people, in different parts of the UK, having to be rescued from mountains in the dark, having apparently gone out without torches.  It really needs to be said over and over again in capital letters, IF YOU’RE GOING INTO THE HILLS GO PROPERLY EQUIPPED.  It’s said that the use of capitals is like “shouting” but sometimes a good loud shout is necessary. Just now I was looking at a powerful outdoor torch on the Cotswold Outdoors web site (that’s a commercial link by the way). Wow! It’s quite a price, and you don’t need to go to that extent, but if you’re going uphill in the afternoon you should know what time the sun is going to set, make sure you’re down in good time, and just in case you’re delayed have a good torch with you.

Upland Farming

Finally, I’m delighted to see the efforts being made by the South Lakes MP, Tim Farron, to highlight the problems faced by hill farmers.  This is not a party-political point but is vital to the future of upland agriculture. I’m including this here as someone descended from generations of Westmorland shepherds.

OK, that’s it for this time.  More in a week or two.

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