Monthly Archives: June 2013

UECP-count[1]

Rory on Spending Review of June 27th 2013

Rory has welcomed the Chancellor’s Spending Review, applauding its focus on “education, enterprise and infrastructure: all vital components to help make Cumbria the best place to live and do business.”

Speaking after the Chancellor’s announcements yesterday Rory said: “Any spending review that prioritises growth is good for Cumbria. The transport budget has increased, and whilst infrastructure is always a long-term project, we will definitely see the benefits of this as Cumbria is brought closer to the rest of the UK in terms of accessibility. We are freezing Council Tax, reducing nearly £100 from the average Council Tax bill for Cumbrian families over the next two years, and we are protecting our schools with a more flexible funding formula that aims to protect our rural schools. In recognition of the wealth of young talent we have here in Cumbria – just last week I met with some of our excellent young apprentices from Innovia, who won Apprentice Team of the Year – we are increasing the BIS capital budget, showing our commitment to increasing apprenticeships and, for our small businesses and indeed the farming sector, more support for exports from UKTI.

Our economy is moving into recovery, and we need to continue to make some very tough decisions in order to reduce current spending by £11.5bn in 2015-16. These decisions aren’t easy, but we are making progress, and I applaud the Chancellor’s commitment to steering this course towards a stronger, fairer economy.”

rory_neighbourhoodwatch_june2013

RORY WELCOMES NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH AWARD WINNERS FROM PENRITH AND THE BORDER

Rory has welcomed residents of Penrith and the Border to the inaugural National Neighbourhood Watch Awards held in London at the Palace of Westminster, where the Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association (represented by Trustees and Board members Christine Makin and David Farmer) was named runner-up in the “Partnership Working Category”.  The award was for a scheme of co-ordinators who had developed particularly effective partnerships, making a significant positive impact within their community.

The awards, recognising outstanding achievement and contributions by Neighbourhood Watch volunteers from around the country, were announced at a ceremony hosted by Lord Taylor of Holbeach CBE and attended by Rory.

Rory said: “This is a fantastic recognition of the very important role our Neighbourhood Watch volunteers play in rural areas, where we rely on our neighbours and our community to help to be vigilant and observant in areas that can be challenging to police. I heartily congratulate CNWA on this amazing achievement, and continue to support them in any way I can.” The nomination of CNWA recognised the contribution the charity has made in the development and introduction of Cumbria Community Messaging into the county, together with numerous other projects which support crime prevention and community safety activities in Cumbria.  In 2011 Cumbria Community Messaging replaced an old outdated communication system, with CNWA taking on key responsibilities above and beyond what would normally be expected.  Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association is the ONLY County Association which hold the licence for a communication system and was praised by the Trustees of the National Neighbourhood Watch Network (who selected the winners) for their energy and innovation.rory_neighbourhoodwatch_june2013

House of Commons Localism speech

RORY TO LEAD PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE ON LIFT AT PENRITH STATION

Rory has succeeded in his bid to hold a parliamentary debate on the issue of disabled access at railway stations, the latest milestone in his campaign to improve access to the station at Penrith in his constituency. Rory had received a commitment in 2012 that the lift would be installed by First Group, the successful bidder for the West Coast Mainline franchise, but the company subsequently withdrew from the franchise. He has since received undertakings from Ministers and officials which he has called ‘encouraging but still not strong enough.’

He will, therefore, use the debate – to be held on July 3rd 2013 at 4:30pm – to focus on the need for a lift at Penrith North Lakes. He will also highlight the long-term importance of standardising access across the UK’s stations – something that the government is already prioritising with its Access for All scheme, funded by the Department for Transport.

Rory said: “Having pushed for this debate for some time, I am delighted that we will now have this important opportunity to push for a lift at Penrith station, which is long overdue. Penrith is gateway to the North Lakes, and it is inconceivable that we are still expecting our residents and visitors with special needs to use the out-dated barrow crossing. I look forward to debating the issue further next week, and encourage any residents or visitors with personal stories of the station and lack of access to contact my office, so that I can use their experiences in the debate.”

rory_scoutsjune2013

RORY WELCOMES SCOUTS FROM EDEN TO PARLIAMENT

Today Rory welcomed the representatives of 1st Kirkby Stephen Scout Group to parliament. The three scouts along with their leader Tom Higss attended a reception in the magnificent Speaker’s Apartments’ rooms in the House of Commons, hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Scouts.

Rory heard about what the Scouts had been getting up to in Cumbria. The Eden Scout District, with close to a thousand members aged 10 to 14, stretches from the summit of Helvellyn to the top of the Pennines, and from the Howgills to the edge of Carlisle. Rory was also able to introduce the three scouts individually to Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Rory said: ‘It was a great pleasure to meet the three Scouts along with Tom Higgs. I think the Scouts are an incredibly important organisation who teach vital skills to children. I am a great supporter of the work they do and it was great to hear about what they’ve been getting up to recently in Cumbria and the big efforts they’ve been making to recruit more adult volunteers to allow more Scouts to enjoy the experiences and adventures on offer. I am looking forward to joining the Scouts soon on one of their adventures. ’rory_scouts2june2013

CAB

RORY MEETS WITH CAB TO DISCUSS LOCAL IMPACT OF WELFARE REFORM

Rory met with representatives of the Citizens Advice
Bureau (CAB) and Cumbria Law Centre at the CAB office in Penrith, to
discuss the impact locally of recent welfare reforms, and to learn
from their on-the-ground experience with local service users.

The group discussed a broad spectrum of issues relating to the Welfare
Reform Bill, including the transition from DLA to PIP, the impact of
the Spare Room Subsidy, and changes to ESA regulations. CAB has seen
an increased demand on their services following recent welfare
changes, as more local people are seeking help and advice about the
impact of changes to their benefits, and look for support in cases
where they decide to appeal against DWP decisions.

Rory agreed to work closely with the local CAB Social Policy
Working Group to provide Government with a report on CAB’s findings,
and to discuss with DWP officials where improvements can be made.

Rory said:

“I really do believe that this Government  is the first in several
generations to introduce reforms which seek to address fundamental
problems which had become inherent within our Welfare system. Any
transition period, from one system to another – especially when done
on such a scale – will always likely create problems however, and the
challenge is to ensure we have the necessary infrastructure and
support in place to help those individuals with more complex needs,
who are struggling to navigate the new structures in place.

This meeting with CAB and Cumbria Law Centre has been very useful,
both in terms of seeing where the new reforms seem to be working in
this constituency, and where problems remain which need to be
addressed. I will continue to work closely with CAB on this matter, to
ensure Government is provided with the relevant facts and advice, that
will ensure the new Welfare system is as strong and efficient as
possible, directing more financial support to this who really need it.

Andy Auld, CAB’s local chief executive said:

“We found it a very useful and encouraging meeting.  We hope to be
able to build on this with further meetings in the future”.

Gaudium

RORY CHAMPIONS LOCAL DEMENTIA SERVICES

Rory paid a visit this week to the Gaudium daycare centre in Penrith, which specialises in care for dementia patients, to meet with some of the centre’s users, and to discuss the future and concerns of local healthcare providers dealing with dementia care and care for the elderly in Cumbria.

Over the next twenty years, the number of people over 60 in Cumbria will double, and the number of individuals suffering from dementia will also double. Alzheimer care alone is expected to cost the local NHS an additional £20million every year. Rory discussed these concerns with the manager of Gaudium – Mariusz Waluk – who explained how his daycare centre is seeking to meet the needs of dementia suffers by providing support and care within an environment that is specifically tailored to their needs.

Rory agreed to write to Cumbria Social Services over concerns that a number of healthcare providers have now raised with him, including ways of ensuring all service users are made aware of the choice in local providers available to them.

Speaking after the visit, Rory said:

“Providing quality care for those suffering from dementia is something we absolutely must get right in Cumbria. With significant numbers of elderly people wanting to retire to the area, there is a real need to consider how we will be able to support their long-term care needs –  especially when over 50% of my constituents will be above retirement age in the next ten years.”

“Specialist care centres like Gaudium will need to be part of the solution, and I have been really impressed today with the fantastic service they offer, and the stories I have heard from staff and users on the quality of the service.”

“There are some fantastic organisations out there providing fantastic levels of care, but I do worry that we haven’t quite got a holistic strategy in place to ensure Cumbria offers the best dementia care in the country. I have written to Cumbria Social Services and NHS Cumbria, and remain very keen to do anything I can to support developments in local dementia care.”

Mariusz Waluk, manager of Gaudium said:

“It was a pleasure meeting Rory in our centre. I had a chance to discuss dementia care in Cumbria – one of the most important issues we face as the population ages. Rory listened with interest to our plans and assured his support. We agreed that private day care providers can play a significant role in caring for people with dementia. Gaudium is working very hard on dementia care guidance and I believe that our work will be recognised on national level soon.”

Trains

RORY PRESSES TRANSPORT DEPARTMENT FOR ASSURANCES ON HS2 DISRUPTION

Rory has requested assurances from Ministers within the Department for Transport that any disruption to services at Euston Station – the London station at which trains from Penrith and the Border arrive – as a result of the construction of the HS2 railway line, should be minimised, and to call for a coherent plan to avoid such disruptions to be put in place in advance.

Rory has called for clarity on the scale and effect of any disruption to the London destination, and indeed to the West Coast line that is so critical to the Cumbrian economy.

Rory said: “Potential disruptions that could have an enormously negative impact on our economy and livelihoods have been brought to my attention, and I have today written to the Minister of State, Simon Burns, to request his feedback on the concerns that constituents are raising. Finally we have along the West Coast a service that is reliable and efficient – everyone agrees on that – and we do not want to return to a time when Cumbrians and visitors to Cumbria could not access the county at the weekend. Rumours of potential closures at Euston Station are incredibly worrying, but we need to get our facts straight. That is why I have contacted Ministers for clarity. Clearly we need to confront the potential impact to Cumbrians of the building of HS2 well in advance, and I will be looking to monitor this very closely indeed.”

Rory also continues to press for a Westminster Hall debate on disabled access at railway stations, and continues to lobby Ministers for the overdue improvements to northbound platform access at Penrith Station.

Rory on the Fells

RORY DEFENDS FARMS AND ESTATES IN PENRITH AND THE BORDER AGAINST NEW INHERITANCE TAX

Yesterday Rory defended farms and estates in Penrith and the Border, fighting against a new inheritance tax.

Rory had been appointed as a member of the Public Finance Committee, in charge of a detailed scrutiny of this year’s budget. He used his position to object to new proposals on estate tax, which he described as “highly damaging to the economy of Penrith and the Border and other rural areas.” The Minister responded to the speech by agreeing to review the policy and introduce a number of amendments in the next stage of the bill.

Rory said: “This issue matters because across the country an enormous amount of the investment made by estates and by farms is made by borrowing against existing houses; this is the key to enabling a vigorous rural economy. Unfortunately, the new policy, could result in a situation in which, understandably, estate owners and farmers chose either to retain their houses and not invest or sell their assets to make an investment which could cause other problems. That is why I am pushing for further consultation and amendments to the policy.”

Rory’s speech focused on the new section 162A and 162B of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 which he argues would disincentivise people from borrowing on their house and their estates to make business investments, because under this new clause this investment would become a tax liability.

Following Rory comments during the sitting of the Finance Bill Committee, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury  praised Rory’s detailed focus on the interests of Penrith and the Border and agreed to table amendments to the legislation to address the issues.

Rory said, “It is a great privilege to serve on the committee and be able to look at the details of the budget. Overall I think the budget does good things for rural businesses, motorists and community pubs. I am delighted though that I was able to catch this small piece of legislation and have it amended because it would have had a serious impact on local investment.”

 

22-10-2013 10-38-36

Rory Speaks on the Iraq War

Transcript

I thank the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) for securing this debate, and it is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Wrexham (Ian Lucas), who made an extremely moving speech.

I was not in the House for the 2003 vote, and I certainly do not want to focus on it today; I am far from sure that I would have made the right decision. In fact, I think I would have been on the wrong side in 2003. It was not until I was stuck in Iraq in 2003 that I saw what a mess it was. I want to reflect briefly, therefore, on the lessons we might be able to draw, not so much from the decision to intervene, but from the questions about how we got stuck there and why we find it so difficult to acknowledge our failure.

The starting point for any discussion of Iraq has to be an acknowledgment that it was a failure and a scandal. However we look at the costs and benefits of what happened there, it was probably the worst British foreign policy decision since the Boer war or the first Anglo-Afghan war of 1839. Never have the British Government made a worse decision. By that, I do not mean that had I been in the House I would have voted differently. In fact, I suspect that I would have voted in favour of the war, wrongly. I hope, however, that this is an opportunity to reflect on what Parliament is, what the Foreign Office is, what the military is and how Britain as a whole—or at least the British policy establishment—could get something so wrong.

This matters because there are many similarities between what we did in Iraq and what we are doing in Afghanistan, and many similarities between those things and what we occasionally think of doing in Mali or Syria. At the base of the problem is our refusal to acknowledge failure, to acknowledge just what a catastrophe it was, and the House’s refusal to acknowledge how bewildering it was, how little we know and how complicated countries such as Iraq are. Sitting in Iraq for 18 months from the middle of 2003 to 2005, I found myself facing, in a small provincial town called al-Amara, 52 new political parties, many of them swarming across the border from Iran and many of them armed.

Nobody in the Foreign Office or the military, and certainly nobody in the House, would have been able to distinguish between Hizb-e-Dawa, Harakat-Dawa, Majlis Ahla, Hezbollah—which turned out in the Iraqi context to consist of two men with a briefcase—or any of the other Shi’a Islamist groups that emerged. None of us in the British policy machine predicted in January 2005 that 90% of the votes in the south of Iraq would go to only three Shi’a Islamist parties. Everybody in the foreign policy machine then predicted that it would be different at the end of 2005, and we were all wrong again. Why were we wrong? We were wrong because we did not have the right relationship between politicians, diplomats, soldiers and the local reality of these countries. We have not got it right yet.

We have not got it right because it is not realistic today—as it was not realistic at the time of the Boer war or the first Anglo-Afghan war—to expect people in Parliament to be experts on the internal politics of Iraq. What really began to go wrong after the invasion, beyond the decision about WMD, was all to do with micro-relationships in Nasiriyah and al-Amara and in the relationships between the different grand ayatollahs in Najaf. These are not things that anyone in the Chamber, however well briefed, can pretend to understand or judge. Instead, we have to rely on the military, the Foreign Office and the intelligence agencies, and there the problem starts. The problem starts because the entire structure of our organisations—their incentives,their promotions, their recruitment, how they interact with policy makers, politicians and Ministers—does not help us ever to acknowledge failure. In fact, these institutions are designed to trap us in these countries.

Careers are made by people going out for short tours. I remind the House and those in the Foreign Office that the initial tours in Iraq were for six weeks, extended to three months, then to six months. The idea—that people living in heavily defended compounds, moving around in armoured vehicles, generally unable to speak a word of any local language, unable to interact with an Iraqi for more than half an hour or an hour at a time, except if surrounded by heavily armed men and operating through translators, could really get a sense of whether Iraq was stabilising or what, to use the Minister’s words, Iraq would be like in 10 years—was of course misleading. The advice and challenge that they could provide to the Government, therefore, was not good enough.

It is not good enough that not a single senior British diplomat formally recorded on paper their opposition to what was happening in Iraq. Many of those who were inside the system now say that they made private comments, that they were worried, but nobody, from the political director downwards, formally objected on paper to the Prime Minister.

Laura Sandys (South Thanet) (Con): Was that not compounded even further by the American Administration, where if someone questioned what was going on, either strategically or tactically, they were sent back to the states, their future career very much in question?

Rory Stewart: That is a very good point, and perhaps it is a way for me to wrap up my analysis of the Foreign Office. Of course, this is not a uniquely American problem. Within any British civil service Department, there is no great incentive to admit failure. When I look back at the reports I wrote stuck in al-Amara and Nasiriyah, I find it extraordinary how every week, I claimed great success. Every week, I would write, “We’ve hired another 300 people into the police. We’ve held a new sub-district election. I’ve just created 3,000 jobs. We’ve just refurbished another set of clinics and schools.” To read report after report, week after week, it looks as if the whole thing is getting better and better. In retrospect, I know differently, of course. When I began, I could go into the bazaar to get an ice cream, but by the end, I was stuck in my compound with 140 rocket and mortar-propelled grenades flying at the compound, and we had to abandon it and retreat back to a military base, essentially surrendering Nasiriyah, a city of 600,000 people, to the insurgents.

The situation is not helped by the way we talk about it in Britain today. We do not really think very much about Iraq. We do not think very much about what exactly Iraq is doing with Iran or Syria at the moment, why exactly Iraq got involved in dubious banking transactions to bust sanctions on behalf of the Iranian Government or why exactly our great ally, al-Maliki, appears to have been allowing trans-shipment of weapons from Iran into Syria. Why do we not think about these things? It is because we are not very serious. At some level, this country is no longer being as serious as it should be about foreign policy. Our newspapers are not writing enough about Iraq. The Foreign Office is not thinking enough about the failure. The military is not thinking enough about these things. Unless we acknowledge that something went wrong in Iraq and that something went deeply wrong in Afghanistan, we will get ourselves stuck again.

What do we do about it? We need to reform. It cannot be business as usual. We cannot just go around pretending it was all fine. We cannot simply blame Blair and Bush.

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthsire) (SNP) : Is not the reason for us going to war in Iraq actually quite simple? Prime Minister Tony Blair had some perverse obligation to George Bush, and that is why we went in.

Rory Stewart: The hon. Gentleman has raised exactly the point that we need to talk about. We believe that somehow it is all the fault of Blair and Bush—this is the myth that has entered the national consciousness. My experience as someone inside the system is that we have to look much more deeply at ourselves. We need to look at the Foreign Office, the military, the intelligence services and Parliament. These people, Blair and Bush, do not operate in a vacuum; they operate in a culture that did not challenge and shape the debate sufficiently. It is not realistic for Blair or Bush to know deeply about these situations and it is simply a constitutional convention, of course, that the people who make the decision are the Blairs and the Bushes. However, if we look at what got us trapped on the ground in Iraq—at why, for example, the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown) found it difficult to get out of Iraq or why President Obama found it difficult to say no to the surge—it is because these people are part of a much bigger system.

The reform of that system is threefold. First, we need radically to reform the way in which the Foreign Office operates. The Foreign Secretary has begun; we need to go much further, thinking all the time about the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to focus on people with deep linguistic and cultural expertise. We need to ensure that we change all the bureaucratic mechanisms. The core competency framework for promotion in the Foreign Office needs to be changed. The amount that people are paid for learning languages in the Foreign Office needs to be changed. The posting lengths need to be changed. The security conditions for the Foreign Office need to be changed, because unless we begin to understand deeply and rigorously what is happening on the ground, it is difficult to challenge the Blairs and the Bushes.

Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion) (Green): I thank the hon. Gentleman for making such a powerful speech, but when it comes to whether it is right or wrong to blame Bush and Blair, I think he is being a little too generous in his assessment of them. He is giving the impression that they were sitting waiting to hear what the evidence was, when it seems clear—certainly in the case of Bush and maybe in the case of Blair—that they had already made up their minds. They already had an agenda.

Rory Stewart: I am sure that much of that is true. I am not here to defend that decision—it was a terrible, catastrophic decision—but I think it is dangerous to put the whole blame simply on Blair and Bush, because the implication is that if we do not have Blair and Bush around, we will never get in these messes again. We will get in these messes again because we have not created the proper Government policy structures required to think these things through—not just to avoid the decision to invade, but above all to get out more rapidly once we have made a bad decision.

Military reforms—you have very kindly given me some time, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I do not have enough to talk about this today—involve accepting that the military have too much power in the policy debate. That is not the military’s fault: they are filling a vacuum. The military feel that the Foreign Office is not taking the lead and that somebody needs to do something. I saw that all the time on the ground in Iraq. I remember a major-general saying to me, “The diplomats and aid workers aren’t doing anything, so we”—the military—“need to take those things over,” but that is not the military’s job. It is extremely dangerous, because its puts generals in positions where they make optimistic predictions about their capacity to sort things out, albeit without a detailed understanding of the politics or the reality of those aspects of governance or diplomacy.

We in Parliament need to look at ourselves—it is on this that we need to conclude. The hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) was exactly right to ask us to look hard at how the Select Committee on Defence, the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Intelligence and Security Committee got this wrong. What reforms have we introduced to those Committees to ensure that we do not get it wrong again? How do we as Members of Parliament operate in a very complicated world? It is not realistic for any of us in this Chamber to understand exactly what the difference is between Harakat-Dawa, Hizb-e-Dawa and Hizb-e-Dawa Islamiya. Everybody is learning desperately from briefs, trying to sound plausible, but there are 200 nations in the world. Ministers are busy. Politicians are busy; they are worrying about their constituents. They are not deep experts on these issues. We therefore need to create a system that we can rely on in the Foreign Office, the military and the intelligence services. We in Parliament need to know how to question those people, how to listen to them and how to promote people who disagree with us. We need in Parliament to learn how to look at which civil servants got it wrong and hold them accountable, rather than promoting, as we did, almost everybody who was implicated in the Iraq decisions.

Rory Stewart: I am coming to the end.
Finally, we need above all to learn—I feel, as a new Member of Parliament, and with all deference to this House—a lesson of humility.

Forest

Forests in Cumbria

We live in what was largely ‘forest’: the medieval equivalent of the national park. Inglewood Forest between Penrith and Carlisle was sixty miles in circumference – if my maths is right 286 square miles. It touched the Forest of Allerdale. Add Nicolforest, in the North, and Gilsland, Geltsdale, Greystoke, and Skiddaw/ Thornthwaite, and more than half this entire constituency was a forest. This did not always mean trees: it included swamp, and heath (and where there were trees, it was not the carpet of Kershope and Kielder’s dark Alaskan sitka spruce, but ash, hazel, hawthorn, field maple, and Northern sessile oak), but it meant an area where you lived without normal legal rights, under the most extreme environmental restrictions and regulations.

For four hundred years and more, creating any house, or field, on the land in half of this constituency was illegal: buildings could be destroyed on sight. The trees were protected and could not be felled; the grass was protected and could not be grazed; the land could not be drained, fenced, or improved in any way; the turf, and the peat could not be extracted. Everything was to be kept as a wilderness, to preserve the ideal habitat for red deer, boar, hare, wolf, fallow deer, fox, marten, and roe deer; for rabbits, pheasant, and partridge. A vast bureaucracy of wardens, and deputies, constables, foresters, and underforesters, revenue collectors, surveyors, judicial inspectors, and rangers, was employed to protect the animals and plants. (In some ways – if not in the hunting – it prefigures the legal framework, purpose, and bureaucracy of the Lake District National Park).

It worked. Two hundred and fifty years after Inglewood was established, the deer flocks were so immense, that the King could kill over two hundred fallow deer in a single day. The impact of these restrictions on planning and land-use lasted a thousand years. Look left as you drive down the M6 to Penrith, and you see the rich, green land on the West bank of the Eden, between Lazonby and Armathwaite, which you expect to be densely settled with villages. But in fact, as I found two years ago, if you get yourself in trouble on the West bank of the river, you are in a seven mile stretch with barely a road or dwelling. This is the part of Inglewood forest, marked on sixteenth century maps as ‘barren park waste’.

The problem with the old forests was not the objective of protecting the environment, but the rigidity, and lack of space for humans. The cost was to the lives of communities. It was a good place for outlaws like Robin Hood, Adam Bell or William of Cloudseley. But farming was so restricted, that no incomes could be made from the land. The only employment was in being paid by the government to protect the landscape, or in supporting hunting and riding through it.  No long-term communities developed, no traditions, no enduring history. The distinctive culture and the life of this constituency was then found almost entirely outside the forest, in the small farms of the Lake District Hills, with its tiny chapels, the Norse-influenced dialect, the unique funeral customs, and thousands of small independent owner-occupier statesman.

Locals, who lived on the edge of the protected land, were angry. King after King, from Magna Carta onwards, promised to reform the system. And finally, the reforms came. The powers of the rangers, and the managers were reduced; locals were granted limited rights to build small properties, to graze, and cultivate, and harvest; local figures became more closely involved in conservation and management. But the reforms were too slow, and Henry VIII eventually tore up the entire legislative and protective framework. The oaks were felled – many for props or fuel in the new iron mines in Cumbria. By the map of 1576, there was a belt of woodland near Carlisle but apparently the rest of the trees in Inglewood has gone. By 1630 John Aubrey describes an almost bare England, facing a crisis of timber. The wild boar, and the wolves had been long killed; the red deer moved North, and the fallow South, and the martens went with their habitat. You can see the trace of what followed in the fields from the air – not the curving Celtic lines, or the Anglo-Saxon common fields, striped like corduroy – but the straighter grid of early modern agriculture, with little connection to the medieval past.

Our ancestors created protected habitats in the forests, but they could not sustain them because they failed to bring together the different interests of farmers, plants, and animals. They failed to find a balance between wildernesses for recreation, farms for income, habitats, and villages for communities. That is still a challenge in National Parks today. Such a balance can be found, but it requires serious thought, flexibility, and long-term planning for different activities, including farming, worked out valley by valley. It cannot just be done through targets and legislation. In the long-term, the environment can only be protected if we understand the needs of that most peculiar ancient native species: the human. If we fail in the balancing act, we will not be able to protect humans or the environment. We will be left with what Camden saw when he visited Inglewood Forest in about 1600, ‘a dreary moor with high distant hills on both sides, and a few stone farm houses and cottages on the road side.