Rory Stewart: Swindale – What future for our landscape?

Rory Stewart writes about a visit to Swidale on the eastern edge of the Lake District near Shap. This  valley is owned by United Utilities, the water company. Two years ago the tenant farmer retired, now the new tenant is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

The farm has become an experiment to manage the land, in a way that ‘increases biodiversity, decreases flooding, increases carbon capture'. The new approach seems to be about restoring a landscape which has not existed almost since the first human settlement. Sheep numbers have been drastically reduced. Local farmers not consulted.

Rory argues that if the Lake District becomes a wilderness reserve occupied by professionals from elsewhere, we lose something very precious -  the small family farms and their lnks to the past. He wonders what future are we planning for our landscape?

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