A NEW book, influenced by Cumbrian upbringing, claims that England is facing the biggest upheaval in land use since 1947 - with no national strategy.

Rarely has the countryside faced so many challenges – and potential opportunities - with so little coordination, still less ambition, according to Peter Hetherington, author of ‘Land Renewed: Reworking the Countryside’, to be published by Bristol University Press this month.

Hetherington, who is the former regional affairs editor of The Guardian and past chair of the Town and Country Planning Association, uses the book to expose the absence of any policy coherence on land in England and, more worryingly, government departments operating at cross purposes against each other’s objectives.

This is especially timely given the forthcoming COP26 conference and the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit.

Peter says: “As Carlisle and Cumbria (where I was born and started work) is a starting point for my new book, which then pans out to wider Britain, I feel people in the area may be interested in its central theme embracing food, farming and climate change - particularly in the run-up to COP26 in Glasgow next month.

“Broadly, through stories of people, land and places, it argues that the UK government is wasting a golden opportunity, post-Brexit, to address these issues in the round.

"They are being strong on climate change and nature-friendly rhetoric; but are woefully short on action. We've brought forward the publication to align with the global climate change conference.”

Fearing for farmers, Peter continued: "There haven’t been any policies for farming, food and land, which could seriously affect the already fragile supply lines.

"As there are a lack of HGV drivers it means that food production has had to be cut back and will continue to do so in the new year.

"As subsidies are cut, thousands of farmers may decide to leave the land instead of using it to grow crops, resulting in the need for more food to be sent over from the EU.”

But why should people in Cumbria care about the ongoing discussion on climate change? Peter thinks that residents know first-hand just how tough it can get.

He said: “Even the sceptics will realise the drastic change in the weather. We are seeing much heavier rainfall and hotter summers, which isn’t good for the environment.

In recent years Cumbria and the North of England has been hit hard by horrific floods, like when Storm Desmond hit in 2015. The Government need to start considering making effective plans for climate energy.”

‘Land Renewed: Reworking the Countryside’ will be released on October 22 and is currently available for pre-order through bristoluniversitypress.co.uk. The book is currently being sold at a pre-order discount of £15.99.