Carola Godman Irvine. Farmer, Campaigner & Columnist. 12-05-21

  • Written by Carola Godman Irvine
  • Posted on May 13, 2021
  • Articles

It is hugely disappointing to see once highly respected organisations increasingly viewed with mistrust by the public, due to an apparent relentless drive towards being PC and highly political.

Reports from a broad spectrum of commentators, imply they are ‘run by a bunch of ‘wok’ sudo-intellectuals, who clearly fail to understand the reason they were originally founded’.

The National Trust is sadly one such example. It’s disregard for reputations of late benefactors, and the history of their properties, abuses the ‘trust’ of the families who entrusted their heritage to the organisation, is alarming.

The Trust has wilfully exposed intimate details about their benefactors, as well as mismanaging land and properties gifted, on the understanding they would be cherished for the nation. This is becoming a national disgrace.

By ignoring centuries of traditional land management by experienced and knowledgeable farmers and landowners, and imposing their less than practical ‘modern day’ regulations on todays’ land managers, is increasingly causing very real harmful consequences.

A point in case is the Trust’s current management theories of the moors in places like the Peak District. These moors have for centuries been kept safe from wildfires by careful management through controlled burning, to manage upland landscapes and, crucially, to reduce the fuel load on the moors, making wildfires less likely and more manageable when they do occur.

The recent dry springs have created tinderbox conditions in the uplands. Only recently a spark, probably from a barbeque or even a firework, set light to Marsden Moor at the northern end of the Peak District.

The scale of the devastating fire that followed, which covered two square miles, was not only the responsibility of the dry weather, and possibly irresponsible behaviour, but also the decision of the National Trust to stop managed burning on the moor.

The Trust is defensive about its policy of not allowing controlled burning. It claims it “uses machinery to cut vegetation breaks which reduce the spread of fire’, and “plant sphagnum moss to help hold water in the area that have been cut, which helps to further reduce fire risk”.

Unfortunately as Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, said, “Cutting, whilst it can be a useful management tool, does not reduce the fuel load on the moors and whilst the Trust may believe alternative management reduces fire risk, the second serious wildfire on Marsden Moor in two years suggests otherwise”.

Being able to use controlled burning, which removes fuel load without impact on peat, where it is appropriate and effective, would give managers at Marsden and other moors the flexibility to address the fire threat proactively alongside cutting, rewetting and other management approaches. It is hard, as Tim Bonner said, to resist the conclusion that the Trust’s complete ban on burning is political – rather than a practical position – which ties the hands of those who look after the moor.

At last it seems that some common sense is being restored to the high streets. There are glad tidings with news that market traders who were convicted for refusing to bow to EU weights and measures, are in line to be ‘pardoned’.

Ministers are working on plans to acquit five market traders, known as ‘metric-martyrs’, who were arrested twenty years ago. The campaign for them to be pardoned will formally be launched on July 4, the 21st, anniversary of the day that two Trading Standards officers, accompanied by two police officers, seized three sets of imperial scales from a Greengrocers stall.

If the law is changed, it is likely that shops and traders will be allowed to sell their goods by either imperial or metric measures, or both. Boris Johnson made a pledge on the 2019 General Election campaign that he would lift the EU’s ban on shops selling in imperial measurements. Good for him!

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