AONB – What’s In A Name?

This was posted on South Heath against HS2 following the select committee visit there this week.

AONB – What’s In A Name?

Seemingly not much when it comes to the designation AONB!

Because of their fragile natural beauty the primary purpose of AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) designation WAS:

  1. To conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape
  2. To meet the need for quiet enjoyment of the countryside
  3. To have regard for the interests of those who live and work there.

This week we experienced the HS2 Select committee ‘being seen’ in these green and pleasant hills. They listened to the people who had come out in droves, despite the sudden change in date, that no doubt left many unable to reschedule at the last minute.

HS2 Select Committee visit to South Heath

HS2 Select Committee visit to South Heath

Since all the children were at school and most of the working population, were no doubt grafting away somewhere else, the assembled throng was hugely unrepresentative of the variety of people affected by the project. There was a photographer present, so any pictures would show this distortion.

One lady remarked that she had moved into the area seven years ago and had enjoyed every moment of it. “I was told that since it was an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it would never be built upon”. “Then I should sue”, replied the Member of Parliament for Poole, Robert Syms, chairman of the committee.

Such environmental protection, we might well construe, is therefore not worth the paper it’s printed on. I felt prompted to ask therefore for an assurance that HS2 wasn’t “the thin end of a very thick wedge” and likely to become a “developer’s charter”.

“HS2 doesn’t have any impact upon development” replied MP Robert Syms. I suggested that anything ancillary to HS2 would pass “on the nod”. Mr Syms agreed with me saying that “Anything to do with HS2 was covered by an act of Parliament and was covered by the Hybrid Bill” and that “it did not cover housing development or anything else”.

At this point the Member of Parliament for Gateshead, Ian Mearns added that such development would require “another Act of Parliament”. I wanted to add how much easier this would be after HS2 had driven a coach and horses through the AONB, but time was pressing.

I will therefore have to save that one until we meet again.

6 comments to “AONB – What’s In A Name?”
  1. Your guest author was writing in his slightly more rational guise. Normally I like to be a bit more abrasive, politicians are used to parrying objections, they however less able to deal with satire. For the more rational argument I blog under “Something wicked…”, for the somewhat sharper weapon I use ‘HS2 Buzz’.

    Just Google ‘HS2 Buzz’ and share it with the world!

  2. Not convinced about the MPs’ comments. Interesting to check whether the development-enabling legislation in the hybrid bill requires that the development be specifically linked to HS2, rather than just adjacent to HS2. Doubt it.

  3. How beautiful it is to see,
    This picture here in front of me,
    It makes me smile and makes me feel,
    It’s so enchanting – it can’t be real.

    Through fields of cattle, wheat and maze,
    My tender eyes are lead to gaze,
    At distant hills and at farmsteads spread,
    Proving us our daily bread,
    Our meats and oils, breakfast fare,
    It makes me grateful they are there,

    i walk among this patchwork quilt,
    Absorbed by all that nature’s built,
    Small creatures, flowers, birds and trees,
    All changing as each day decrees,
    Natural cycles trundle by,
    Beneath the ever changing sky,

    My contentment raised as I take a look,
    At this page of my picture book,
    It stretches far as my eye can strain,
    Spoilt only by that high speed train.

    It’s just a vision in my head,
    That fills my heart with utmost dread,
    That soon my picture will contain,
    The construction belt of the high speed train,

    I have been told that when enhanced,
    Surrounded by mitigating plants,
    It will be pleasing to the eye,
    This straight line reaching to the sky,

    But yet I know that once complete,
    There’ll be less grass beneath my feet,
    More man made mess will grace the frame,
    With nature’s picture never seen again.

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