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Just one of those lovely little things

It’s hard to know what access to nature minister Richard Benyon normally finds in his gigantic Berkshire estate when he strolls out on a Sunday afternoon. It is unlikely, however, to be a loudly singing group of activist trespassers, dressed up as psychedelic animals and accompanied by an all-female morris-dancing troupe.

But that’s what wandered up his drive on Sunday, when protesters visited the Englefield estate, calling on Benyon to open it up to the public and extend access for everyone to green space across England.

The Guardian witnessed about 150 people strolling into the estate, including the morris dancers (who came in peace, leaving their traditional sticks at home), and Nadia Shaikh, a nature conservationist and one of the organisers of the event.

The right to roam, common land, power to the people etc etc. The thing I just love about this story is that the founding event is the Mass Trespass at Kinder Scout. The Kinder Scout where access is now limited by the National Trust in order to stop the place eroding away from an excess of visitors. Garrett Hardin was right, Marxian access simply does not work when demand is greater than capacity.

25 thoughts on “Just one of those lovely little things”

  1. They added: “Access to nature is something you, as a major landowner, have taken for granted all your life. For the majority of England, however, it is not a luxury but an existential necessity they are denied every day by a system of exclusion; a system that you can change.”

    How much ‘access to nature’ can you expect if you choose to live in a city?

    Let’s make the ‘Right to Roam’ conditional on re-wilding and we’ll see how they fare against wolves and bears…

  2. “ Kinder Scout where access is not limited by the National Trust”

    Tim – Should ‘not’ be ‘now’?

  3. “They added: “Access to nature is something you, as a major landowner, have taken for granted all your life. For the majority of England, however, it is not a luxury but an existential necessity they are denied every day by a system of exclusion; a system that you can change.””

    Aren’t ramblers a bunch of weirdos? Sure, a walk in the country is lovely, but what’s so special about a 12,000 acre estate that the rest of Berkshire doesn’t have? Did Slartibartfast hide a fjord in there? Is it the last resting place of the cup of Christ? Or is it just more fields that looks like the rest of Berkshire?

  4. So they’d be happy if I as a country lad wandered through their yards and houses yearning for a piece of its grunge?

    Where on earth do these ideas of such necessities come from? And why does anybody take them seriously??

  5. The Guardian witnessed about 150 people strolling into the estate…

    I’m sure ‘The Guardian’ just happened to be there…

  6. “Your honour, how was I to know that it was a person dressed as a psychedelic animal? Anything that size normally needs both barrels of the Purdey, of course, and the dogs did the rest…”

  7. Harry Haddock's Ghost

    Tossers.

    Most of the farmers round my way don’t but an eyelid to locals “trespassing” on fields and private farm tracks. But then they know we treat the area with respect and don’t trample all over crops and let Fido shit everywhere.

    Unfortunately, since COVID, we have had a large influx of Southern townie incomer twats who think it is their “right” to do exactly that, so I don’t know how long it will continue.

    Cunts don’t even use the local pubs.

  8. Your honour, how was I to know that it was a person dressed as a psychedelic animal, I had just dropped a tab of LSD.

  9. I’ll support ‘right to roam’ when it’s advocates include their own homes and quite happily welcome passers by wandering around their house and having picnics in their garden.

  10. Is this a cue for that person who keeps making weird references to the Lockean proviso, without ever saying what he means?

  11. I once asked a farmer for permission to walk over the Roman fort on his land. He told me that it was fine by him, but he’d been born on that form over 60 years before and I was the first person he’d ever heard of asking for permission!

  12. I know nothing about this Benyon chap. It does look like he doesn’t really need the MP salary. Perhaps he went into politics out of a vocation for public service. (Don’t laugh.)
    But he may decide that being micro famous only gets hordes of envious ignorant tossers spoiling your day, in which case he might give up and hand the country over to yet more PPE graduates.

  13. Not to disagree with your essential point, but how is Kinder Scout access restricted by The National Trust? I was there earlier this year and there was no obvious barrier to me parking up near Bowden Bridge and just walking up there, roughly following the Tresspass’ route.

  14. Can you live in a barrel now?

    If all the commons weren’t enclosed, would supply be superabundant?

    Diogenes: 《The Lockean proviso is a feature of John Locke’s labor theory of property which states that whilst individuals have a right to homestead private property from nature by working on it, they can do so only “at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others”.》 If I can’t make like Grizzly Adams, how are property rights anything but might makes right?

    [I’m in the wilderness right now, hearing bears, but why am I limited by law to seven days per month?]

  15. Bloke in North Dorset

    I’ve just had a look at the OS 25k map for Berkshire and there’s no shortage of footpaths and bridleways.

    As BoM4 says, what’s so special about his gaff?

  16. Barrel liver

    Hangover from feudalism and its theory of land ownership, I’m afraid. The land upon which my house stands belongs to me thanks to the gft of the monarch and of the Earl who formerly owned it.

    Landowners couldn’t just enclose common land. It had to be approved by Parliament, whch acted in lieu of the monarch. In any case there were still restrictions on how the land could be used ( grazing mostly).

    Also Locke didn’t know about “improvement” and the agricultural revolution of the 18th Cent.

  17. And it’s actually a tragedy of the *unmanaged* commons, despite the phrase used by Hardin, who was working from the common-place innate meaning that “commons” explies “unmanaged”. Everybody who tried to rebut Hardin used examples of managed commons, which kinda exactly makes his point.

  18. Our interlocutor appears to live or otherwise exist in the US, so the ‘Lockean Proviso’ doesn’t really apply. He should address his concerns to SCOTUS as this would probably fall within the scope of their Constitution. I should also probably add “good luck with that!”

  19. TG

    Doesn’t the Federal Govt “own” all the land in the US ? Even the frontiersmen had to buy parcels of land, if part of the Union. Not sure about outside of it, what happened to people who “held” land and the Union Borg like assimiliated them.

    Something I’ve never looked into.

  20. Most of the farmers round my way don’t but an eyelid to locals “trespassing” on fields and private farm tracks. But then they know we treat the area with respect and don’t trample all over crops and let Fido shit everywhere.

    Same here. But one problem with footpaths is that the landowner is responsible for keeping them accessible and safe. This is why any ash trees closer to a footpath than the height of the tree are being felled, as they constitute a ‘foreseeable hazard’ if they (as they very likely will, eventually) contract ash dieback.

  21. “If all the commons weren’t enclosed, would supply be superabundant?”

    You certainly have a tortuous relationship with the English language.

    Getting through the negations, you seem to be saying that supply would be superabundant if all enclosed land were commons. My guess would be not. I suspect that allotments are less efficient than large agri-businesses and there wouldn’t be large agri-businesses if they couldn’t control access to their crops. The real problem is that I don’t understand why anyone would ask the question? I certainly wouldn’t do anything about my right to graze a sheep on the local common

  22. The whole point of enclosing common land was to make the land abundant. Fields became much larger and thanks to economies of scale it was now possible to produce food in quantity as a cash crop in its own right. Beforehand farmers would sell their surplus, but now the large landowners produced and sold crops as an actual product. This is the idea of “improvement” and is a thread that runs right through the agricultural history of Britain in the late 17th and 18th Centuries. It is thanks to this agricultural revolution that the population in Britain started to grow so dramatically in the 18th Century. It had taken nearly four centuries for the population to recover from the Black Death, but now with abundance and international trade ( especially from the American colonies ) there was a more regular food supply and additionally we have the phenomenon of the landless farm labourer, whose sole purpose was to work the fields for a wage and rented a hovel from the landowner ( bad harvests still happened, of course, especially at the beginning of the 19thCentury and there were still famines in Ireland, where “improvement” was patchy). The long ending of the Little Ice Age is the prime additional reason for this explosion in production. Later on in the century, the advent of canals and the ability to transport huge bulk loads the length of the country added extra impetus.

  23. Can you enclose my natural rights now?

    《I suspect that allotments are less efficient than large agri-businesses and there wouldn’t be large agri-businesses if they couldn’t control access to their crops.》

    Have you heard of Masanobu Fukuoka?

    《Take a look at these fields of rye and barley. This ripening grain will yield about 22 bushels (1,300 pounds) per quarter acre. I believe this matches the top yields in Ehime Prefecture. And if this equals the best yield in Ehime Prefecture, it could easily equal the top harvest in the whole country since this is one of the prime agricultural areas in Japan. And yet these fields have not been plowed for twenty-five years.》

    If there is starvation, has it been amplified and needlessly created by capitalist enclosure?

    《thanks to economies of scale》

    The same “economy” that depletes soil so much you are forced to buy fertilizer?

  24. there is starvation, has it been amplified and needlessly created by capitalist enclosure?

    I’ve just explained this. Quite the opposite happened and thanks to colonialism, international trade and refrigeration it broke the cycle of seasonal starvation. Subsistence farmers in Europe were reduced to living on nuts and berries in Summer until the harvests came in.

    《thanks to economies of scale》

    The same “economy” that depletes soil so much you are forced to buy fertilizer?

    Man has always used fertiliser. Modern fertiliser is more refined, but farmers still soread manure just as they have for thousands of years. Ever seen The Martian ? How does he grow spuds on Mars ?

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