Farrer on...Brexit casts uncertainty over landscape

It has been a tumultuous time with Brexit and, for me personally, the conclusion of the presidency of the Landscape Institute.

There I was, comforting myself that my work over the past two years had made a difference, that a few more people now value and understand the importance of what horticulture, landscape design and management can bring.

Then came the referendum result — any good work that I may have done pales into insignificance. I can at least hang on to the fact that the European Landscape Convention will remain as an international treaty obligation for the UK under the authority of the Council of Europe (it did not originate within the EU), as far as I am aware.

But everything else! All the directives and the loss of funding that no one recognised or shouted about that prop up so many longer-term landscape projects are now uncertain.

I am no fan of the Common Agricultural Policy but I recognise its impact on our countryside. Once it is gone, then what? It is likely that the UK Government will revel in reducing bureaucracy and strip away red tape that seemingly hinders farmers.

It may look petty but those little strips of land around our fields that lay fallow, the hedges, the little grants supporting tree planting and more balanced farming methods all add up.

No longer will we be able to turn to EU legislation to mitigate against the effects on our environment caused by modern farming methods.

Farming is only one of the challenges. The work of the Landscape Institute and all the other bodies in our sector goes on. The battle, for that is what it has recently felt like, continues.

Merrick Denton-Thompson, the new president of the Landscape Institute, will be positive and see the future hiatus of change as a real opportunity to promote the role of landscape and stewardship.

Noel Farrer is a founding partner of Farrer huxley associates

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