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They’re getting this the wrong way around

More than 100 hectares of some of the most stunning landscape in west Cornwall has finally been recognised as common land, protecting it for the public 140 years after it was threatened with enclosure.

Lizard Downs was authorised for enclosure – the act of taking ownership of common land – in 1880 but the proposed fencing off never happened.

It remained unoccupied but attempts by campaigners to register the 116 hectares as commons during the three-year period allowed by the Commons Registration Act 1965 were derailed by objections.

As a result, although the 116 hectares – described as “splendid open moorland” by the Open Spaces Society – is managed by Natural England as part of the Lizard national nature reserve, its status remained uncertain.

If it’s common land then anyone can GOP there and do anything. That’s the opposite of protected. This really is Garrett Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons.

If you wish to protect the land then you’ve got to have either private ownership (the capitalist solution) or regulation (the socialist). Anyone can do anything – the commons – doesn’t protect at all.

its registration as common land confers additional protection, and a right for the public to walk there, for all time.”

No, it reduces protection, because folk can now walk all over it. As happened at Kinder Scout where access is now limited because too many people do.

11 thoughts on “They’re getting this the wrong way around”

  1. But it isn’t the right of anyone to do anything, it is the Commoners, whosoever they may be, who have certain rights to do whatsoever. Hardin didn’t understand

  2. No, a managed commons with commoners who do the management is a managed commons. His point was using a different meaning of the word “commons” which is an unmanaged, unlimited, access, piece of common property.

    His point makes much more sense – using common (sorry) meanings of words if we say “Fisheries Tragedy” say. Because “commons” does have those two meanings.

  3. Access to Kinder Scout is restricted for sheep, who had been over-grazing. I can’t find any reference to restrictions for people. (There is a soft-restriction in the limited supply of parking spaces for walkers, but that’s not the same thing.)

  4. The Fisheries Tragedy is the regulation of fishing grounds, which have caused more harm than good.

    Unregulated, fish stocks can never be fished to extinction because the point is reached when the cost of catching so few fish makes it an economically unviable activity, so fishermen either go bankrupt or move to other fishing grounds and species.

    Additionally, fish move around so a basic breeding stock will exist somewhere.

    As I recall suddenly Cod were more plentiful than supposed, being on the brink of extinction due to overfishing. Suddenly large shoals ‘appeared’ out of the ether.

    We hear this time and time again how ‘extinct’ species suddenly appear after years. How ‘the environment’ recovers ‘far quicker’ than expected after an oil spill.

    Maybe it’s all the experts who don’t know what they are doing and should stop counting things and playing god and just sod off.

    There are apparently only 12 Snow Leopards left (Boo boo – send money.) How many should there be? Once upon a time there were none, so if we end up with none again that is just return to normal.

  5. Re: Kinder Scout- there’s no restriction for people. Reducing over-grazing by sheep & erosion by people (by paving/diverting the Pennine Way) have made a huge difference. I was up there last year & scrub is taking over- the notorious peat bog of yesteryear is hard to find. I reckon that in 20 years it will be unrecognisable, a silver birch & shrub covered landscape instead of open moorland.

  6. Tim. I believe that in the land sense, commons only had the one meaning. Land for use by those entitled to use it, being “commoners”. All land in England was owned by someone. Ultimately the king. Who disposed who could enjoy the use of it. You’d have to point to a piece of land that wasn’t owned by anyone to find a piece anyone could enjoy the use of it.

  7. Thus the “Tragedy of the Commons” was the product of an ignorant economist. (Not hard to find) Since all of them were managed. “The Tragedy of Bad Management” hasn’t quite got the bite, has it? Yes, “Tragedy of the Fisheries” would work.

  8. Almost all ‘Common’ land in England is owned by someone – Burnham Beeches, for example, is (mostly) owned by the City of London Corporation. People who live on or nearby may have commoners’ rights, which include lots of interesting Norman language: estovers (the right to gather fallen (but not to fell) wood for firewood); pannage (the right to graze pigs on acorns; pescage (fishing); and the right to extract certain types of minerals.

  9. Yeah. recognised as common land, protecting it for the public 140 years after it was threatened with enclosure. are essentially the same thing. Enclosure removes the rights you’ve mentioned. And so does protecting it for the public.

  10. “enclosure – the act of taking ownership of common land”: oh no it isn’t.

    There’s a fine detailed account of the enclosure of the West Field of Cambridge on the web for anyone who wants to understand this stuff. It all passed off successfully by agreement. It involved one droll aspect: nobody knew who the Lord of the Manor was so they had to appoint one. They chose Merton College Oxford!

    As far as I know the East Field enclosure was also just fine. But a disgrace involved Midsummer Common where the landowner was the town council. They managed to steal the commoners’ rights.

  11. Did bloke in spain call out this weak old troll?

    The law locks up the man or woman
    Who steals the goose off the common
    But leaves the greater villain loose
    Who steals the common from the goose.

    The law demands that we atone
    When we take things we do not own
    But leaves the lords and ladies fine
    Who takes things that are yours and mine.

    The poor and wretched don’t escape
    If they conspire the law to break;
    This must be so but they endure
    Those who conspire to make the law.

    The law locks up the man or woman
    Who steals the goose from off the common
    And geese will still a common lack
    Till they go and steal it back.

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