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July 5, 2014

I was saddened to hear that the Lowther Estate and their agents have rejected the community bid to buy the Lake District mountain Blencathra, despite the fact that – in a very short time – the community groups have raised the asking price.

They have sold, presumably subject to contract, to a private bidder.

But then, in my experience, the loaded and the landed always do stick together.

This iconic mountain will now be privately owned – along with the rights and taxpayer funded subsidies that will come with it.

And isn’t if funny that, at a time when 11 million Britons are living in poverty and people in this country are queuing at food banks, subsidies to rich landowners are never cut. Some make the equivalent of a lottery win every year, and no doubt criticise the jobless and disabled as taxpayer-funded scroungers as they spend their profits.  A report the other week showed that the 100 richest people in Britain had more cash between them than the poorest third of our population.

And these landowners need do nothing with their land in exchange for that subsidy.

Anyway, back to Blencathra.

No man should have the absolute rights to a mountain, any more as Ewen McColl puts it in his song The Manchester Rambler, “Any more than the deep ocean bed.”

Surely the time has come for land reform in this country.

Particularly in National Parks and across our more iconic landscapes.

Community and park buyers should be given the first refusal when a mountain or important stretch of moorland comes up for sale.

And let us scrap all landowner subsidies, unless they are particularly geared to a specific programme of conservation, and require that the public be allowed a legal right to roam on that particular piece of land.Castlerigg Circle and Mirehouse 010

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Julian Baker permalink
    July 5, 2014 8:17 am

    The worrying thing for me is less that there is a tradition that the loaded and landed stick together, but that the intermediaries in this affair have disproportionate influence. I am absolutely positive that the agents will be pushing for a maximum price for minimal time invested, the legal representatives will seek to add evidence to their portfolio that they “win” for their clients (and earn plenty in the process), and that public servants seek to minimise disruption and risk to their institution. All that gets in the way of getting the right outcome.

  2. July 5, 2014 2:16 pm

    I assume much, if not all, of Blencathra is common land with many rights over it as well as the right to walk, so the new landowner will need to be extremely careful and inclusive.

  3. July 5, 2014 4:57 pm

    I take it that the existing rights of way & the rules about common land still apply regardless of the owner? Forgive my ignorance but which authority oversees the protection of these rights?

  4. July 5, 2014 5:37 pm

    They do and I assume it is the responsibility of the national park authority. Interesting to see who the new owner is.

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