Britain's countryside is undergoing a radical transformation. As technology increases agricultural yields and European Community subsidies are restricted, much of our farmland will soon no longer be required. What we should do with this surplus land (perhaps as much as a quarter of the existing farmland) is one of the crucial environmental questions now facing us.
This new development in agriculture comes on top of a profound long–term social change. Since World War II, as employment on the land has declined, farm workers have moved to the towns in search of work. At the same time, the accessible countryside has become peopled by commuters, whilst the more remote and scenically attractive areas have been increasingly occupied by second–home owners and the retired. These newcomers have brought with them substantially different expectations and requirements of the countryside and their presence is already having a major impact on rural services and amenities and on the infrastructure of village life itself.
This book examines the various possible outcomes of these developments. With the help of a range of telling photographs, it considers the often competing views of farmers and foresters, environmentalists, conservationalists, the leisure industry, developers, planners and rural communities.
For all who live in Britain's countryside and everyone who cares about a vital part of our heritage, this thought–provoking and superbly illustrated book will be essential reading.