Coming in late, but what is Simon Jenkins on?
The implementation of single farm payments is thus critical to more than the fate of British farming. It will decide whether the countryside, at least in southern Britain, remains in a remotely rural form. Not only must the money be sufficient to keep farmers on the land but the rules must change. A new planning regime has to award rural Britain the same statutory protection long granted to urban Britain. Landscape must be listed and conserved. Otherwise, outside national parks, all is gone. There is no mystery about what this means: look along the coast of New England, round Los Angeles or on the shores of the Mediterranean.
Just how many houses does he think the UK needs? His dire prediction that the Single Farm Payment will lead to thousands of houses being built sounds remarkably like the answers to a lot of our prayers.
Yes we need proper planning laws, and yes we need to dissuade people from speculatively buying land, but with 99.9% of us living on just 8% of the land it will be a long time before we come close to the catastrophe that Simon Jenkins appears to think is just around the corner.