High Ground, high potential - a future for England’s Upland Communities.
The Commission has since fallen victim to the Government’s financial cutbacks and has been scrapped. However, its report is worthy of careful consideration. True, it is based on research carried out in England but I doubt that anyone from other parts of the UK would dispute that its findings are broadly relevant across the whole country.
Some of the more interesting findings include a comment about the lack of leadership or vision in the uplands and how the inquiry had revealed dissatisfaction with the disjointed and sometimes confusing nature of current policies. Policies were criticised as ‘top down’, sporadic, short-term interventions. The report summarises the policy weaknesses as: non-participatory, one-size-fits-all, fragmented, and uninformed.
Conclusions - summary of requirements:
1. A new integrated strategy for the uplands
2. Strengthening leadership and momentum
3. Empowering communities in the uplands
4. A new approach to funding (a better targeted CAP)
5. Developing markets for carbon and water
6. Securing the future for hill farmers
7. Encouraging enterprise in new green growth areas
8. Raising aspirations: supporting the development of communities
9. Improving broadband and mobile telephone communications
10. Planning to enable sustainable upland communities
The content of this comes does not come as a surprise; these findings could have been taken from our Annual Reports. What is perhaps surprising is that these issues have been recognised and presented to government. It remains to be seen if this report produces any action.