SOME OF Britain's leading experts on landscape conservation, wildlife and planning spent the weekend discussing ways of protecting our landscape in perpetuity as the Government considers its plans for merging several countryside agencies.
The stated aim of the conference, held in Oxford, was to recommend some sort of "joined-up" landscape conservation policies to put to Eurocrats who are planning to draw up a continent wide policy on the subject – in other words, yet more Euro red -tape.
But in the back of the minds of many delegates was the fact that the British Government is planning to merge several highly respected countryside bodies, including the Countryside Agency, English Nature and possibly the Environment Agency, into one super agency – a move which many fear will lead even more red tape and political meddling.
Countryside Agency chief executive Richard Wakeford told the conference: "For many people our rural landscape is the foundation of our national identity and well-being.
"More than 90% of people responding to public attitudes surveys claim to care deeply about the rural environment and want to keep it special.
"Yet there has been a historic policy divide between nature conservation and those who influence landscapes reflected in the creation of national nature reserves on the one hand and national narks on the other."