Hinterland - 17 August 2020

In Hinterland this time: rural support for Black Lives matter, the rise of the staycation, CPRE and climate change, negative furlough projections, Public Health England under threat and the return of the white crane…

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Black Lives Matter group offers rural people 'insight into prejudice'

A fascinating development – brings some freshness to the whole issue of the nature of rural communities and BAME groups.

Black Lives Matter activists have launched a toolkit designed to help rural communities across the UK to fight racism in their local area.

Their campaign, BLM in the Stix, is aimed at building on the momentum of June and July, when more than 260 towns and cities held anti-racism protests, from Monmouth in south Wales to Shetland in Scotland. It offers rural communities support to take a stand against racism at a local level.

The online toolkit was launched on Saturday with a protest along the banks of the River Colne in Essex.

“This toolkit is about getting people who are not racist to become anti-racist, especially for people who live in rural areas who might be thinking we don’t have that much racism around here,” said Gurpreet Sidhu, founder of the Wivenhoe Black Lives Matter group and co-organiser of the protest.

The toolkit, developed by Wivenhoe BLM supporters with help from Stand up to Racism Colchester and the Local Equality Commission, provides resources on how to start a campaign in a rural setting, describing some of the key challenges as well as ways to overcome this. It is targeted at white people in rural areas who want to stand up against racism but might not know where to start.


Why UK farmers are cashing in on the boom in rural staycations

Long may this trend continue. I am not sure if there has been a more turbulent up and down time for farming since the Second World War – this is one of the ups. The article tells us:

The property agency Savills, which advises landowners moving into the tourism and leisure sectors, says the pandemic has accelerated existing holiday trends, with many more farmers and estates diversifying their businesses to cater for increasing numbers of tourists opting for camping, glamping sites and holiday cottages in the UK.

Simon Foster, Savills’ director of tourism, says that these are likely to be long-lasting changes: “Our view is that it’s here to stay,” he says.

“People are looking for somewhere safe, secure, secluded, where they can hunker down for a week, rather than staying in a big resort or a big caravan park or hotel.

“That trend for rural holiday accommodation, whether it be glamping or cottages, has gone through the roof in the last month or two – and will continue to remain strong.”

James Smith from the Cool Camping website estimates that there are twice as many new camping sites this year than last, with many of them on farmland. “Places are so booked up that people are struggling to find anywhere,” he says. “There are a lot of businesses that are seeing this as an opportunity and setting up sites pretty quickly.”


Countryside is 'key' to tackling climate emergency, says CPRE

Thoughtful approach as ever by CPRE this article tells us:

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has called for a radical rethink in the role of the countryside in tackling the climate emergency, in a report called 'Greener, better, faster'.

As the government chooses how best to support the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, CPRE National and its Gloucestershire office is calling for the countryside to be at the forefront of climate action, so that rural communities do not bear the brunt of the climate emergency.

Climate change puts the farming industry at risk, with changing rainfall patterns and drier soil conditions threatening crop production.

The farming industry is not the only element of rural areas that is at risk, with biodiversity being hugely at risk due to altered temperature and rainfall patterns.

'Greener, better, faster: countryside solutions to the climate emergency and for a green recovery', a report by the CPRE, sets out how the countryside can be at the centre of the transformation for a net-zero carbon society, to ensure the climate emergency is tackled in a way that benefits those living and working in rural communities.


End of UK furlough scheme ‘means needless loss of 2m jobs’

Important in the context of this article to reflect that many of the 2 million jobs referenced here are in rural economies. The story tells us:

After confirmation that Britain has entered the deepest recession since records began, new analysis seen by the Observer finds that as many as 3 million jobs will still be reliant on the government’s furlough scheme by the time it is closed at the end of October.

While 1 million jobs will be lost permanently as a result of the pandemic’s impact and changing demand, it finds that the remainder could be saved in the long run by adopting a successor to the furlough scheme focused on viable jobs in the hospitality, entertainment and construction sectors.

The new research, drawn up by the Institute for Public Policy Research thinktank, warns that simply withdrawing the furlough scheme with nothing in its place will cause unemployment at levels “not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s”. It also calls for major increases in universal credit to help those who are out of a job – an idea that is gaining support among Tory MPs.

The public is split on extending the furlough scheme beyond October, but most people want the support extended in some form, according to an Opinium poll for the Observer. It found 28% say the scheme should end as intended, 33% back extending it for sectors most affected by Covid-19, while 18% support extending it for all sectors.


Coronavirus: Public Health England 'to be replaced'

If true (my experience of PHE is positive and rural friendly) this is a sad development.

Public Health England is to be replaced by a new agency that will specifically deal with protecting the country from pandemics, according to a report.

The Sunday Telegraph claims Health Secretary Matt Hancock will this week announce a new body modelled on Germany's Robert Koch Institute.

Ministers have reportedly been unhappy with the way PHE has responded to the coronavirus crisis.

The government was contacted by the BBC but declined to comment on the report.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Public Health England have played an integral role in our national response to this unprecedented global pandemic.

"We have always been clear that we must learn the right lessons from this crisis to ensure that we are in the strongest possible position, both as we continue to deal with Covid-19 and to respond to any future public health threat."

The Telegraph reports that Mr Hancock will merge the NHS Test and Trace scheme with the pandemic response work of PHE.

The paper said the new body could be called the National Institute for Health Protection and would become "effective" in September, but the change would not be fully completed until the spring.

The Robert Koch Institute, which the new body will reportedly be based on, is an independent agency that has taken control of Germany's response to the pandemic.

Earlier this month, the government brought in a new way of counting daily coronavirus deaths in England following concerns that the method used by PHE overstated them.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also said the country's response to Covid-19 could have been done "differently" and the government needed to learn lessons.


And Finally

Birdwatch: white storks return to UK after 600-year absence

I find these huge birds fascinating and often marvel at how they live cheek by jowl with people in European cities. If we end up with more of them to look at across rural England I for one will be very pleased to add them to my list of dynamic charismatic mega fauna! This story tells us:

The sound was both primeval yet utterly fresh and new: a time-travelling throwback to the middle ages; yet, at the same time, a portent of a brighter future for our rural landscape.

Like a rapid burst of machine-gun fire, the bill-clapping of a white stork is – in nature’s terms – simply a signal that the bird is displaying to its mate. But for me, it also has a deep cultural resonance: as if the stork is celebrating its belated return to the British scene, after a gap of more than 600 years.

First one, then two, then a dozen of these striking black-and-white birds rose into the warm morning air on their broad wings. But this wasn’t in France, Spain or Poland, where I have watched them in the past, but in West Sussex: at the Knepp Wildland Project.


About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.


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