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Memos from Members

Summer 2014 Newsletter

The debate continues with your editor's contention two issues ago that just a smidgeon of the 97.73% of the English landscape that is not built upon (UK National Eco-system Assessment 2012) might be made available for, say, 50 attractive and eco-friendly new towns to house 2.5m people as a radical solution to the housing crisis which successive governments have allowed to develop over the last generation or so.

Empty Countryside

My earliest memory of Nomansland Common, going back about 70 years, is of a neat line of stooks of wheat drying in the sun. There was not a bush or a tree in sight because this was war- time and the entire common, like many other commons, had been ploughed up and put down to food crops to replace the food sent to the bottom of the Atlantic by the U-boats.

This image comes to my mind whenever somebody starts talking about alternative uses for agricultural land, and I am sure that John Davis is right to question the planting of trees for the Heartwood forest on good wheat land (the description given by a Sandridge farmer). This new forest would be a nice heart-warming idea were it not that the UK is now only 62% self- sufficient in food and the percentage is going down. Increasing the population by immigration while simultaneously taking agricultural land out of production is a seriously bad idea when you don’t have a food surplus any more.

Farming has been astonishingly productive during the last fifty years giving politicians and others the idea that it will remain so however much it is messed about. That productivity has depended mainly on the use of nitrogen fertilizer, a commodity whose production is strongly energy-dependent. The present farming picture looks stable enough at the moment, but don’t assume with respect to the countryside that ‘empty’ means ‘exploitable’.Tom Addiscott

I am at one with Tom and also John in wishing success to the efforts to improve our agricultural self-sufficiency. What worries me is that, unless some such solution at minimal cost to the landscape as I suggest is implemented, we shall all end up sitting outdoors eating this agrarian finery; 'picnics for the homeless' might describe this dystopian future - editor.


The Thriving High Street

The first meeting of Harpenden Retailers on April 16 proved to be very productive with two working groups being set up. The first to establish links with bars, cafes, pubs, restaurants and retailers in Harpenden and encourage them to join forces with their St Albans counterparts to create a major event in Harpenden for local residents.

The second group formed of fashion, health, hair care and associated retailers are devising ‘Indulgences’ days to encourage local residents to experience all the new and exciting products and services they have to offer with a series of events in the town during July.

The ‘Harpenden Shopping’ Facebook page is being extended to encourage more retailers to show what they have to offer and make it a focal point of information for Harpenden residents. A Facebook workshop is being set up to help those retailers who need some technical assistance.

www.facebook.com/HarpendenShopping

Memos to Members