The living landscape
In my last piece I talked of the grim February weather. Happily a new season is now upon us and, like everyone else, I am relishing the arrival of spring. I can’t wait to get out and about to enjoy the spring sunshine amidst the countryside, and to soak up the beauty of a wild Cornwall coming back to full life again.
In celebration of these springtime delights, it is worth reflecting on how the stunning land and sea scape that is the Roseland has come to be. Millennia of complex, and often harmonious, relationships between mankind and nature have shaped our land and coast. From hedgerows first planted and pruned by Iron Age smallholders, to churches hewn from local granite, to the ships of all sizes that to this day enliven the waters of the Fal, human activity and nature combines to create the visual feast residents and visitors enjoy alike.
The question we now all face is how to best to protect this landscape, whilst ensuring it meets the needs of people including housing and work space? How best can we propel into the future the balanced relationship between the land, sea, wildlife and people that our ancestors enjoyed? The people in charge of answering these questions aren’t sat in an office in Whitehall, they are you and me.
The Government has abolished centrally-set housing targets, setting communities free to work with their local authorities to create their own plans to shape their place. Such plans can cover a huge range of areas, from identifying suitable new sites for necessary new housing to marking out green spaces for special protection and community use. Once approved by the local plan in a referendum the ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ for the locality is adopted and will guide all future development locally.
As many of you will know the Roseland is at the forefront of this process. Gerrans, St Just, Philleigh, Ruan Lanihorne and Veryan Parish Councils have come together to draw up a Roseland Neighborhood Plan and are doing a great job. More information on the emerging Plan, and how you can get involved can be found through http://www.roselandplan.org/
I was delighted to be asked by Kenwyn and Truro Parish Councils to be the Chairman of their Neighborhood Plan Steering group and can confirm from this great experience how worthwhile it is to get involved with your local plan. I would urge you to support the good work of your Parish Councillors as they engage with the community and to have your say on the future of your area.
I look forward to supporting the developing Roseland Plan and to seeing it take effect in due course, to the benefit of all. Neighborhood Planning returns power from the Government to people and communities and embodies an old concept, that of stewardship. This is the idea that those who live on the land should have the powers to decide its future; local people being given the ability to maintain the harmonious relationship between the Cornish and Cornwall that has helped create the Roseland we know and love.
In May I will be walking this cherished landscape for my Tall Ships Challenge 2014. The walk will start at St Anthony’s Head and after walking across the Roseland I will head north, ending up at Holywell Bay twenty seven miles later. The funds raised will pay for local servicemen and women working with Turn to Starboard, participate in the 2014 Falmouth to Greenwich Tall Ships Race. More information of the walk, and how to get involved, can be found at http://www.sarahnewton.org.uk/news/tall-ship-challenge-2014
One brief update on my previous article relates to my ongoing campaign against the new fishing restrictions that look set to be imposed as part of a new marine environment park. I remain deeply concerned by the impact these restrictions could have and have persuaded Natural England, who are responsible for creating the Park, to meet with me and local fishermen to discuss our concerns. I very much hope that this meeting can lead to progress being made, and a bit of common sense breaking out.
Whether joining me on the Roseland lanes, or getting out and about in your garden, or heading down to the coast for a spot of fishing or walking, I hope you are able to make the very best of another Cornish Spring.
Sarah Newton MP
Pictures – Mary Alice Pollard – www.justnicephotos.co.uk