What are the silver linings in the midst of this horrible period?
Participating in the neighbourhood planning group, our focus has been on seeking an appropriate route forward for the right housing development within the village but the next stage in the Plan is to consider what might improve our existing footpaths, wildlife corridors or even our long-term contribution to global warming by planting more trees. We are incredibly lucky in our local farmers with the many footpaths well maintained and also their general use of environment schemes for the benefit of wildlife, however changes in the support mechanisms after Brexit means new opportunities will occur.
The ‘silver lining’ I mention relates to the linkage between this and what has happened during the pandemic when lockdown has forced a change in much of our normal lifestyle. I, for one, have walked the parish in a way I never used to even when we had dogs to exercise and it has given me a much greater awareness of the detail of where I have lived for the past 50 years. I have certainly met more people, looked at more different house constructions, peered in gardens that have not opened in Open Gardens weekend in the past and overall have learned a lot about my village.
All the above starts to become important as the Neighbourhood Plan seeks to engage with people in the village on what environmental features are good, could be improved or even totally altered. The desire to plant trees, hedges, orchards, create wildlife corridors or establish ponds can be aspirations for all of us but cannot be achieved without the support of the landowners and in some cases their tenant farmers. At this stage, the promised financial changes to support environmental schemes remains unclear but what we can be certain about is that they will have to be of sufficient magnitude to enable farm businesses to remain viable.
It is so important that all sides engage in this discussion if we are to make what is already a great place to live, even better.