Common landscapes9 min read

Today a taskgroup of 27 organisations launches its report Landscapes for Everyone (see below) in parliament, calling on politicians to champion our unique British landscapes. We shall be there.

Ross's Camp, Muncaster Fell

Our special message is that we must look after the 2,212 square miles of common land in England and Wales. Do this and we secure a vast range of landscapes and wildlife habitats, we embrace history and culture, and we ensure that the public has places to walk and ride in peace and tranquillity. Our commons come in all shapes, sizes and landtypes — from the moors of Dartmoor to the Lake District fells, from the Norfolk coast to the Chiltern chalklands, from Snowdonia’s mountains to the Glamorgan shore. Even lakes can be commons, such as Llangorse Lake in the Brecon Beacons.

No other category of land offers so much to the public — in England over half by area is designated as a site of special scientific interest, more than three-quarters are within a national park or area of outstanding natural beauty and just about every square inch is open to the public by right. In Wales, one-eigth of the total land area is common.

But commons need protection. As we say in our 2015 manifesto we need a new duty on county and unitary authorities to take action against unlawful encroachments; we need a speed limit of 20 mph on all unfenced roads across commons to enable stock to graze and people to roam in safety, we need to ensure that our commons can continue to offer inspiration and enjoyment to the public and a living for those with common rights there.

Chobham-Common

For immediate release
20 January 2015

New partnership calls for better ‘Landscapes for Everyone’
Coalition of charities launches vision to protect and promote Britain’s landscapes

Charities across the UK are today joining forces to campaign for the protection and enhancement of our treasured landscapes. Encompassing 27 national and regional organisations, including the Campaign to Protect Rural England, National Trust, British Mountaineering Council and Wilderness Foundation, the coalition is believed to be the largest ever to be formed on this issue. [1] Ahead of May’s general election, the coalition aims to raise the profile of landscape and to emphasise the importance of landscapes to our wellbeing, environment and economy.

With ongoing speculative development in and around sensitive areas, such as National Parks and AONBs, the varied group of organisations believes that it is vital for future government policy and funding to reflect the extraordinary value of landscapes. The Landscapes for Everyone vision is supported in parliament today by Natural Environment Minister Lord de Mauley, Shadow Minister for Natural Environment Barry Gardiner MP, and Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Environmental Affairs Baroness Parminter. The vision calls for better landscapes for people, better planning for landscape and better places for nature.

Lord de Mauley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Natural Environment and Science, comments:
“Our beautiful landscapes provide not only outside spaces for people to enjoy, they are also valuable in their own right and integral to tourism, to rural economic growth and to people’s health and wellbeing. I want to see our countryside continuing to contribute to the economy, whilst ensuring our much valued landscapes remain protected.”

Kate Ashbrook, General Secretary, Open Spaces Society
‘The Open Spaces Society has, for the last 150 years, championed and celebrated our rich and varied landscapes, from the grand open tracts of wild country to the local green spaces close to home. It is vital that governments recognise the public benefit of good-quality landscapes for our health and well-being, for nature and the economy and put robust policies in place to protect them.’

Jo Roberts, Chief Executive, Wilderness Foundation UK
“The Wilderness Foundation is delighted to support the Landscapes for Everyone Initiative. We believe strongly in the importance of the connection between communities and their local landscapes and heritage. It is so important to work collaboratively, applying a broad approach to valuing and conserving our surroundings to create a better future for the people and nature of Britain.”

Howard Davies, Chief Executive, National Association for AONBs
“Our landscapes reflect our collective past and determine our future quality of life. Landscapes are about people and places, are fundamental to our health and well-being, and are an important part of our identity. It is critically important that the value of landscape is recognised in decision making locally and nationally”.

Benedict Southworth, Chief Executive, Ramblers
“As Ramblers, we value landscapes for their natural beauty, tranquillity and wildlife. We also recognise that landscapes make an enormous contribution, through the recreational opportunities they offer, to the health, wealth and wellbeing of the nation. We call on the Government to protect and restore landscapes as well as the paths, trails and open green spaces which allow people to enjoy them and lead happier, healthier lives.”

Dave Turnbull, Chief Executive, British Mountaineering Council
‘Climbers and hill walkers value the cliff and mountain landscape as places to experience the great outdoors, challenge themselves and maintain their health and fitness. The BMC fully supports the shared vision of protecting our precious landscapes for the benefit of the current and future generations’

Paul Hamblin, Executive Director, National Parks England

“The landscapes of the ten National Parks are among the most treasured in England, and make a hugely valuable contribution to people’s health and well-being and to the economy. National Parks England welcomes this clear articulation of the value of landscape and its central place in all of our lives. We hope that this call to action will secure long-term protection and enhancement of our landscapes, so that people can continue to enjoy these beautiful places to live, work and visit.”

Julian Woolford, Chief Executive, Campaign for National Parks
“As the organisation campaigning to protect and promote some of our most beautiful and valued landscapes, the Campaign for National Parks fully supports the Landscapes for Everyone initiative. National Parks are ‘living landscapes’ making a significant contribution to the economy through tourism, farming and other related businesses as well as containing breathtaking scenery, rare wildlife and cultural heritage. We want all political parties to commit to adopting the actions set out in ‘Landscapes for Everyone’ to ensure that National Parks and other landscapes are valued for the benefit of all, now and in the future.”

Peter Nixon, Director of Land, Landscapes and Nature, National Trust
“From the public park to the National Park, and the historic townscape to the natural seascape, Britain has extraordinarily varied landscapes, which provide limitless opportunities for enjoyment, exploration and inspiration. But they are threatened as never before by inappropriate development and lack of resourcing.
“As organisations, we’ve come together to ask Government and political parties to celebrate landscapes, and to show their commitment to a better future for these areas, that have inspired generations of people.”

Stuart Brooks, Chief Executive, John Muir Trust
‘Our wellbeing now and in the future depends on having access to wild places, which are vital for nature to thrive and people to restore their spirits. The John Muir Trust is proud to support this call for our precious landscapes to be properly valued in public policy and given the protection and enhancement they deserve.
“As Muir said “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.””

Rachel Stancliffe, Director, The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare
“The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare supports Landscapes for Everyone as it is vital to protect and enhance natural places, both to benefit people’s health and for the wellbeing of the planet. Multiple studies show that people stay healthier if they are able to access and enjoy nature. It is crucial to protect landscapes for current and future generations, so that the environment can continue to provide sustainable health benefits.”

John Mayhew, Director, The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland
“Scotland’s landscapes are of a richness, diversity and distinctiveness that make them unparalleled in Europe. From the wild open spaces of the Cairngorms to the intricate farmed and wooded lowlands, our landscapes result both from the forces of nature and from the efforts of countless generations who have shaped our country.
“Yet these precious rural landscapes are under constant threat from inappropriate development; sometimes in the wrong place, sometimes simply too large for their setting. All landscapes are important; degraded or neglected ones which need positive change as well as spectacular ones which need protection. That is why we support the Landscapes for Everyone initiative.”

Peter Ogden, Director, Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales
“Landscapes create nations, and nowhere is this truism truer than in Wales, Cymru. No matter where they are, whatever their size or shape, landscapes connect people and places to create our sense of place and distinctive identities. They are the canvas on which we build and live our lives and the foundations which underpin our individual wellbeing and nations’ prosperity. Every landscape matters and is valued by someone. This is why the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) supports and will promote this important “Landscapes for Everyone” initiative in Wales.
“The priority for everyone who shapes our landscapes, must be to work together and ensure landscape are safeguarded and the diversity of values and benefits they provide maintained when change occurs. I look forward to Landscapes for Everyone embedding sound landscape principles into the mind-sets of all those who influence change, so that the responsible stewardship and spectacle of Wales’ landscapes and seascapes and those beyond, is assured.”

Kate Willshaw, Planning Officer, Friends of the Lake District
“Friends of the Lake District fully supports the Landscapes for Everyone vision. Landscape is hugely important to everyone for our livelihoods, mental health and physical wellbeing; and also for the natural systems on which we all depend. Without proper care and protection we are at risk of losing many of our beautiful landscapes to development and environmental degradation.
“Friends of the Lake District, along with all the organisations who support this vision, believe that the importance of landscape should be recognised by all political parties, and that the Government and policymakers should commit to ensure better landscapes for people and nature.”

Shaun Spiers, Chief Executive, Campaign to Protect Rural England

“For far too long, England’s landscapes have been undervalued given the understandable focus on economic recovery. But beautiful landscapes and a strong economy go together. CPRE believes that government at all levels needs to do more to ensure our diverse landscapes survive and thrive, and to support local communities in safeguarding them. We are calling on all political parties to commit to the calls to action in Landscapes for Everyone.”

ENDS

Notes to editors
[1] The coalition comprises: Association of Garden Trusts; Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland; British Mountaineering Council; The Broads Society; Campaign for National Parks; Campaign to Protect Rural England; Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales; The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare; The Conservation Volunteers; Dartmoor Preservation Association; English Outdoor Council; Friends of the Earth; Friends of the Lake District; Friends of the Peak District; Groundwork UK; John Muir Trust; Landscape Institute; National Trust; Outdoor Industries Association; Open Spaces Society; Ramblers; Scottish Campaign for National Parks; Snowdonia Society; South Downs Society; Wilderness Foundation; The Wildland Research Institute; Yorkshire Dales Society.

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