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Gardening Grandma

Interesting, BB. I live in an area where there is a lot of empty space and I have to acknowledge that green belt is extremely valuable as an amenity, especially where there is a lot of intensive building, as in the south east.

I'm not so much arguing that Jean B should be an exception as that a pond and mown grass is not much of an infringement and an apropriate response should be given. She still owns the land if it reverts to its rough state and it is still enclosed and inaccessible as a leisure amenity for others.

Only 10% of Britain is built upon, although much green land is within sight and sound of development. We want green belt - and we want development, because it creates housing and wealth. There's an outcry every time a road is built through it, with people chaining themselves to trees, etc, but the alternative is congestion and traffic thundering past people's houses day and night. 

I do think that zero tolerance sounds good and worthy, but actually it is dangerous. It leads to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, if you see what I mean. Mistakes are treated the same as crimes. It is completely insensitive to people's real needs and lives. Most people stop believing in it when it affects their own home and family.

For example, in the US in some states, murder carries a mandatory life sentence as part of a zero tolerance policy. Cold-blooded, planned murder is therefore punished the same as a crime of passion under intense stress, as when one young man shot his girlfriend's violent ex-husband when he thought she was going to be attacked. He is a soldier with a record of gallantry, and he is a devout Christian. Things are just not black and white.

So I'll have to disagree with you, even while I respect and sympathise with what you are saying. 

P.S. I enjoy debate, but I hope I am not being a total pain in the neck for keeping up the argument.


GG not a pain in the neck at all - well not to me anyway.


not at all, but then maybe you don't live in birmingham.. I didn't live here when my eyes close. I lived in a place where 5 mins walk meant you were out in fields and bracken. slow worms newts frogs and lizards.. I lived in s wales for first 19 years of my life, and I have to say, a pretty good childhood, away from buildings and stuff.. My worry is that if people can build on greenbelt, gardens or otherwise, sets precedent, and years down the line someone will pay money so buildings can be put  on that land, then more precedent. Better it's all binned now, I'd much prefer our distant relatives, can still argue this point in 200 years, than not, because there is no green belt.

Gardening Grandma

I think it is not only ecological forces that govern this but financial ones. I don't so much mean bribes, though they play a part, but how many houses we need, what roads we need, whether you live in the edge of a town where urban growth will slowly surround you, and most importantly, how much of our food we grow ourselves. I have read (a long time ago) that only 10% of our farming potential is utilised, which does not make much sense in an era of food shortages and the need to rebuild domestic wealth and decrease the national debt. We're all more than a bit helpless in the face of these things.

There is another issue, too. Over a third of marraiges end in divorce. Our birth rate is low yet we need more and more houses - because there are so many single-parent families. This is another economic issue driving the using up of green belt land,


GG, I think we should get ourselves over to the rant thread, we're descending into the 'demise of social fabric' thread here!!! But I do agree, I shudder to think the type of world my grandkids in 50 or 70 years time will be living in. My Grandfather a few months before he died in 1980 said a very telling statement to my dad. 'See boy, I've just got too old for the world'.


Gardening Grandma

That's really rather touching. He sounds Welsh, too, although he didn't say 'boyo'. I wasn't really meaning to bewail to world's decline, just point out the trends. There is a decline involved, but it has happened before in history and reversed again, usually through religious revival. I'm afraid to do tend to philosophise. It is just my turn of mind! 

  Back to Jean Bailey.

Hi GG - two of your recent comments/points puzzle me a bit.  Why should any land which is privately owned become "accessible as a leisure amenity for others"?  Although a public footpath crosses my land, I don't consider it to be public property.  I own it.  I bought it.  It's mine.  Folks can - and may - cross it, on the footpath, but I don't agree with the idea that it's a "leisure amenity" for them!   The farmer who rents it from me wouldn't be too pleased either if people allowed their dogs/children to run around annoying and upsetting the cattle when they are grazing there during the summer months, and neither would I!


The other point you made about only 10% of our farming potential is utilised puzzles me too.  Just exactly what did you mean by that?  I suppose it might just be that the majority of the total acreage/land area which the UK consists of is not actually put to farming use because it's mountain/forest etc. and therefore unsuitable for arable or dairy farms, but there are lots of folk who use hillside/mountainous areas for sheep, so I can't quite see where your "10% of the potential" comes from, given that parts of the landscape simply couldn't be "farmed" anyway.  The changes to farming in my lifetime (my Pa was a very successful farmer) have been astonishing, not only as regards efficiency and productivity but also as regards the attitudes of people who are in authority but know virtually nothing about what it takes to make a living from the land.  I still have some connections - somewhat tenuous now perhaps - with the farming industry, and am saddened by the fact that my neighbour cannot now compete with what you'd call "the major players" when it comes to milk production, the income (loss, in his case) from which is driven by the major supermarkets' ever-increasing pressures to bring  down the price on the supermarket shelf to satisfy their customers. 

Gardening Grandma

Hi, HCF. Thanks for challenging me - it makes the discussion a lot more interesting. I meant that people use footpaths across privately owned land for walking and enjoying the fresh air and countryside. I do realise that there are limitations on what people can do! Lots of our coastal paths here in Wales, for example, pass through privately owned land.

I know little of farming - the 10%, as I said, was in an article I read quite a long time ago. In my area, lots of farming is hill farming, but I think the article was referring to food production and saying that we could produce a lot more of our own food if it were not that imported food is cheaper. I think it also bemoaned the fact that poorer countries produce food for sale to us (such as sugar and coffee) because of what we are prepared to pay for it when, actually, they should be growing food for their own population. However, because I used to teach lots of lessons on moral and social issues, I read a lot of stuff and it is all jumbled together in my head now I am old!!! Please feel free to correct me - I love a debate and I love learning!

Hello again GG - I think part of the problem is the "need" for cheap food here in the UK, though the majority of people have grown used to what is seen by people in other parts of the world as as relatively high standard of living.  Supermarkets & their profits have surely made a big difference to things as far as UK farmers are concerned - we've only to think of the recent horsemeat scandal I suppose, as I suspect that the horseflesh was cheaper than beef, so that's why it was used (even unwittingly) by the supermarkets in order to make those particular products more competitively priced.   Although the EE regs are supposed to apply throughout Europe, there are all sorts of tales about non-compliance, especially as far as livestock farming is concerned - horror stories about the way pigs & poultry are kept, for example - all to make things cheaper.  I think I've already said several times that if there are laws/rules in force, I believe they should be adhered to - but if it is the majority view that these rules are unacceptable, then people can and should make their feelings known.  As far as lots of imported foodstuffs are concerned, we can't compete on price - partly due to labour costs and our taxation system here - especially if we stick to the Rule Book when others don't!

Gardening Grandma

It is a double bind, isn't it, when we are regulated right out of a competitive position. I think what the horsemeat scandal shows is that 'cheap' means 'poor quality.' The drive for cheapness means that people eat rubbish - lots of cheap carbohydrates, lots of preservatives, rubbish meat. Not that horsemeat is necessarily rubbish. We had good horsemeat steaks in France.

I can provide cheap food by choosing a largely vegetarian menu but I'd rather supplement it with quality meat and use less. I like to live simply but sensibly. British produced food is still the best and safest.

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