The following is just a sample of the environmental realities in the UK that seeks to justify the title of this blog post:

Without land set aside for wildflowers and ground-nesting birds, agriculture in the form it is increasingly taking is one of the main causes of nature-depletion in the UK. Intensive farming, in effect where every square inch of land is given over to cultivation of silage, the growing of crops, or grazing livestock will be increasingly required to mitigate the loss of trade deals with European countries in the wake of Brexit, and the ongoing “special military operation’ in Ukraine, the latter somewhere often considered to be Europe’s breadbasket. Nevertheless, striking a precarious balance between intensive farming practices which appear to be the only way farmers can make a viable living, reversing nature’s decline in rural settings, and facilitating the diktats of the UK’s ruinous approach of green fields and nature-rich hedgerows disappearing under a tidal wave of concrete, bricks, and tarmacadam to underpin the National Planning Policy Framework’s (NPPF) favourite ‘presumption of favour’ tagline is, as Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes was wont of saying, very much a two pipe problem.

Where ground-nesting lapwings and skylarks once shared the land with grazing livestock, holiday lodges and man-made fishing lakes now predominate, often only after the soil has been stripped and depleted (that word again).

The sadness felt from when the inexorable turning wheel of decline can sometimes seem illusory through perversity. A local example for me is where once up to eight Grey Herons could be seen in close proximity to each other and a local river crossing; it is now a rare occurrence to see a single bird. However, these iconic, instantly recognisable riverside giants who wouldn’t look out of place in Jurassic times, have been usurped by sometimes dozens of Little Egrets, a species that until recently was not considered to be a UK resident.

Long Tailed Tits flit from amongst hedgerows which they are having to share with increasing amounts of Costa, Starbucks, and McDonalds-dominated litter strewn from moving vehicles. Should the aforementioned companies and their competitors be held responsible for the actions of some of their customers, or are we to assume that consumers of takeaway coffees and food have less of a social conscience? As local authority’s strip back their budgets for litter collection and tackling fly-tipping and without any preventative measures at the point of purchase, this is a problem that is unlikely to be solved by law enforcement or a hopeful realigning of individual consciences. Local authorities cannot be blamed for the actions of their constituents but are seemingly content to take exorbitant amounts of Council Tax from residents but visibly do less with it.

Skeins of geese honking their way from Scandinavia to the UK, only to be the target of cowardly shotguns held by midlife crisis men sporting absurd raiments.

Stubble fields and grassland patronised by the aforementioned geese and lapwings – a quartet diminishing with every passing year.

Farm outbuildings and barns, indeed often the farmsteads themselves, which traditionally gave shelter and nesting sites to swallows and barn owls, are increasingly being converted into ‘desirable’ abodes and holiday lets. Synonymous with the countryside, for how long will we see these traditional edifices without pointing out what was once there, but is no longer?

The perverse practice of naming new housing developments after what they have destroyed, for example The Pastures and The Woodlands…

Grey Squirrels increasingly becoming roadkill as they attempt to find further tree canopies in which to roam. The fact that broken connectivity between arboriculture sites precipitated by an unsustainable pressure on trees in all locations necessitates squirrels to widen territories boundaries, but their speed and adroitness is more suited to vertical climbing than horizontal ‘hoping for the best’ dashes across speeding traffic that invariably ends badly.

Farmers who through choice or a financial lack of one that see greater value in intensive agriculture than sharing the land with nature are ripping out hedgerows that previously demarcated boundaries of a mosaic of fields, instead creating ‘far as the eye can see’ monotonous environmental wastelands for maximum return, but at the expense of countryside birds such as the yellowhammer reliant on hedges for food, shelter, and nesting.

Green Belt protection that is so flimsy and ill-defined that current legislation allows for example car boot sales/flea markets, travelling circuses, man-made fishing lakes, glamping sites, holiday lodges, and frankly evil game bird rearing enterprises upon it. The Green Belt should act not only as a buffer between settlements but be a symbiotic shared space for nature and environmentally friendly agriculture to thrive.

Needing to reduce reliance upon on countries within the European Union in the wake of Brexit and Ukraine, as well as cut field to plate ‘food miles’ and therefore CO2 emissions, the UK needs to retain its agricultural land to grow the food needed to sustain the population, not to on which build soulless cookie-cutter housing estates in inappropriate locations from which residents will have no choice but to drive their motor vehicles significant distances to access everyday services.

Despite a government-backed price cap, something that today has been announced will be reviewed in the springtime, the cost of gas and electricity to heat UK homes will become impossible for many to shoulder. A solution sought by many is the installation of log burners, an understandable alternative. Are though the locations from where the wood is being sourced traceably sustainable? Are we tearing down forests around the world to not only make cheap, fast furniture but to burn in our own homes? In my location the air is thick of an evening with local air pollution precipitated by a conflagration of log burners choking the atmosphere with a very detectable alternative to being bankrupted by the unit cost of domestic consumer electricity and gas. If we are to reverse, not prevent, the climate crisis the world has to stop burning things for whatever the purpose may be. The onus is on both average Joes and world governments to achieve this, but the former must have financially viable alternatives before it can be roundly and rightly pilloried for selfishness in their own backyards.

There hasn’t in my lifetime been such a disdain by those we vote (or not regarding the current regime) into power for nature, the air we breathe, providing a viable livelihood for farmers where they can work with not against the environment, and a lack of acknowledgement of the importance on mental well-being brought about by the proximity of green space to human life. It is perhaps entirely predictable that the current (but for how long?) UK government is seeking to go even further in pushing nature out to facilitate illusory growth that will only be measured by pounds sterling in the pockets of a select few, not how such policies impact the health of the electorate or give real protection to important land and prevent the vile abuse of domesticated pets and wildlife. A reintroduction of Fracking, more roads, houses, coal mines, generic out of town shopping complexes but fewer fields, less environmental protection to the point of it being cursory, and assuming that this country can build itself out of trouble are policies synonymous with Conservative rule that alter the mindset of an electorate who themselves pursue a greed first agenda, determined at all costs to get a bigger slice of an imagined pie which hasn’t itself got any larger, but is instead being cut into more pieces.

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