Archive for June, 2016

22 Ideas that Saved the English Countryside

Here is a slightly longer version of my column in the July Countryman.

22 Ideas that Saved the English Countryside by Peter Waine and Oliver Hilliam is a reminder of why people care so much about the countryside and how it has come to be “saved” – saved, at least, from a much worse fate than it has received. Each of the 22 ideas is supported by stunning photographs that show as clearly as words that our countryside is the product of human decisions, as well as of nature. The most beautiful rural scene owes something to human intervention, and in many cases is enhanced by it.

Human intervention cannot be avoided in as small and crowded a country as ours. Change is inevitable, and inevitably something will be lost (most of us like the countryside we remember as children, or think we remember). The point is to seek to minimise the damage that changes bring and maximise the benefits.

Too often the advocates of progress are heedless of its consequences, so the book is in part an anthology of splendid rage against Philistines and Gradgrinds – despoilers, disfigurers, Treasury officials. It is a sort of ‘greatest hits’ of conservationist entreaty and invective. Continue reading ’22 Ideas that Saved the English Countryside’