Hinterland - 24 February 2020

Hinterland this week - housing challenges, new train stations, flooding, wood burners, fishing and the Black Death.. Read on!!

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Housing shortage: Scale of UK's housing gap revealed

The lack of affordable housing across England and specifically rural England is having a major impact on people’s health and well-being as this story tells us

In a poll of more than 2,000 people for the Affordable Housing Commission, 13% of adults said their mental health was affected by their housing situation.

Looking just at those in unaffordable housing - costing more than a third of income - produced a greater level of concern.

Twenty-five percent of the sample said their mental health had suffered. That's potentially millions of people.

The Affordable Housing Commission found that more than half of 18 to 24-year-olds live with family, and 18% are still doing so as 25 to 34-year-olds. 

At the same time, government statistics show that the number of young adults living with parents is on the rise.


First trains stop at Worcestershire Parkway station

Brilliant to see major rail opening up again in rural settings, even if it did take 30 years to get this show on the road!! This story tells us:

Worcestershire Parkway, in Norton, near Worcester, is the first station to open in the county for more than 100 years.

About 50 people waited on the platform of the £22m station to see the first train pull in on its way to London Paddington.

Among those to get on was Mike Bond, who only travelled as far as Evesham. He said: "I just wanted to be on the first train."

Tom Pierpoint, GWR's interim commercial development director, said: "We know this station has been a long-held ambition for the people of Worcestershire and we have been pleased to work alongside the county council and our rail industry partners to ensure the delivery of this impressive new facility."

Councillor Ken Pollock, Worcestershire County Council's cabinet member for economy and infrastructure, said: "I'd like to thank all those involved in making this station, which has been talked about for more than 30 years, a reality."


More than 11,000 homes in England to be built on land at high risk of flooding

Looks to me like there is some considerable misery built into our housing planning in rural England for some time to come. This article tells us:

More than 11,000 new homes are planned to be built on land at the highest risk of flooding in the regions battered by the worst winter storms in a generation, the Guardian has learned.

An analysis of planning documents reveals that 11,410 new homes have been planned for land the government considers high-risk in the seven English counties where thousands of properties have been devastated by flooding since November.


Wood burners: Most polluting fuels to be banned in the home

No rural proofing here……

Owners of wood burners, stoves and open fires will no longer be able to buy house coal or wet wood, under a ban to be rolled out from next year.

Sales of the two most polluting fuels will be phased out in England to help cut air pollution, the government says.

Bags of logs sold in DIY stores, garden centres and petrol stations often contain wet wood - a type of wood which produces more pollution and smoke.

The public should move to "cleaner alternatives", the government says.

Plans for the ban were first announced 18 months ago, but the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has now confirmed it is going ahead.

The government said wood burning stoves and coal fires are the largest source of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), small particles of air pollution which find their way into the body's lungs and blood.

Particulate matter is one of several pollutants caused by industrial, domestic and traffic sources.


What’s the catch? British fishermen’s hopes and fears for Brexit deal

A very thorough exposition of a complex and introspective world. This fascinating article tells us:

Although the industry is a tiny part of the UK economy – worth less than 0.1% of the total in 2018 – it has become emblematic of a plucky, independent Britain, freed from the shackles of restrictions and regulations set by other people in other places, forging its own way in the world.

Much, therefore, is riding on trade talks that are due to begin at the start of March. According to Nigel Farage, fishing will be the “acid test” of Brexit. Boris Johnson reinforced this view in a key speech on EU trade negotiations earlier this month. Any agreement must ensure that “British fishing grounds are first and foremost for British boats”, said the prime minister, who visited Brixham last summer to meet fishermen and sample hake and chips on the quayside.

The timetable is extremely tight, with the EU saying that an agreement on fishing must be reached by the end of July, and the talks will be tough. A fishing deal is a precondition to a wider trade agreement, the EU has said – and some European politicians and officials have suggested that Britain’s access to the EU’s lucrative financial services markets could depend on EU fleets being allowed to continue to fish in UK waters on the same basis as now.

At the heart of the talks are issues of access and quotas. Under the EU’s common fisheries policy (CFP), all member states have equal access to EU waters apart from the first 12 nautical miles from the coast. At the end of this year, the UK will become an independent coastal state, operating under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea rather than the CFP. As such, Britain will have control over an “exclusive economic zone” up to 200 nautical miles off its shores – some of the most bountiful seas in the world.

Quotas are set for fish species in Brussels each year following scientific advice about the levels of stocks, and are allocated to member states on the basis of historic practice. Currently, EU boats are entitled to more than 60% of overall landings by weight from the seas around the UK, and for some species the proportion is greater. For example, the UK is allocated 9% of Channel cod, while the French get 84%. From next year, quota shares will be negotiated rather than decided in Brussels.


And Finally

Mass grave shows how Black Death devastated the countryside

With all this talk of corona virus a spooky 500 year thumbprint of something that makes you think. This story tells us:

A mass grave containing the remains of dozens of victims of the Black Death offers chilling new evidence of the speed and scale of the devastation the plague brought to rural England, according to archaeologists.

The grave, discovered in a remote corner of rural Lincolnshire, has been dated to the 14th century, almost certainly to the earliest and deadliest medieval outbreak of the disease in 1348-9.

It contained the bodies of at least 48 men, women and children who were laid in a sandy pit within days of each other. DNA tests on the bodies found the plague pathogen, confirming how they died.

About half the population of England was wiped out within 18 months by the 1348-9 pandemic. Perhaps surprisingly, however, direct archaeological evidence for the Black Death is extremely rare, according to Hugh Willmott, senior lecturer in European historical archaeology at the University of Sheffield, who led the excavation.

While a small number of plague mass graves have been excavated in London, he said, nothing comparable has ever been found in a rural context, making this a discovery of national importance. Analysis of the find, made in 2013, has been published for the first time in Antiquity.

The grave was discovered by chance during a survey of the now-ruined Augustinian priory of Thornton Abbey, close to Immingham in north Lincolnshire, on the east coast of England. Nearby, archaeologists found the site of a medieval hospital attached to the priory, suggesting the dead or dying had been brought there in desperation as the plague struck, overwhelming the canons who were then forced to bury them together.


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



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