Its Our Home
I feel that, fundamentally, at
its simplest, the reason we are here on the Earth is that we are here to look
after each other. The Earth is our only home. To look after each other we need
to look after the Earth. While I don't suppose that many individuals will have
much influence at the national level let alone the international level, we can
act in our own lives to improve not only our most intimate environment -our
homes- but also our neighbourhood.
Therefore, one of the most important
activities that we need to concern ourselves with is looking after the
environment; our immediate environment, and further afield.
Location, location, location!
Location is a major factor in the
determination of a properties value. Not the only one of course. We cannot all
live in Freshford which is a beautiful part of the countryside. Some of us are fortunate
though: perhaps we were born here, or our parents moved here. Perhaps we
may have moved into a special area, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by
deliberate choice. We probably had to pay more to buy somewhere nice to
live, perhaps living in a smaller house because that's all we could afford. We
may have moved into a beautiful part of the countryside when we retired.
When someone buys a dwelling and some
land they hold what is called a Title (to the land and the dwelling and other
buildings on that land) they may sell the property, because they may decide or
have to move somewhere else. If they don't sell their property the title
passes to their dependants or someone else when eventually they die.
Do We Own the Land?
Title to land
4. The Crown is the only absolute owner of land in England and Wales: all
others hold an estate in land. Estates, which derive from feudal terms of
tenure, originally took many forms but were reduced by the Law of Property Act
1925 to two, an estate in fee (sic) simple absolute in possession, generally known as
"freehold"; and an estate for a term of years absolute generally known as
"leasehold". Apart from an estate, land may have the benefit of or be subject to
other interests, which are rights and obligations relating to the land,
belonging to the owner or to a third party.
Fundamentally, although a property may
remain in the ownership of a family, perhaps for hundreds of years, the property
is held in trust, in the sense that it should certainly not be used and abused
as the land will be here when we have gone.
Men may have built the house that
stands on the land, but the land is there, part of our natural world, which
has been given by God or if you prefer is part of our treasured natural
The natural shape of the land can be
reshaped by heavy machinery, our hills could be flattened and our valleys
filled. One would hope that it's hardly likely, especially as some areas have
been described as being of outstanding natural beauty, but it could happen.
Even a little interference (in terms of land area measurement) can have a real
impact on our countryside. Why cannot we have some wilderness in this small
island of ours? There are parts of London that have wilderness qualities e.g.
Hampstead Heath. But much of our countryside is actually manmade; arable
fields, maximised to create a profit, with accompanying destruction of the
natural habitat by removal of hedgerows, removal of trees and rocks. One
must suppose that apart from wild heath and forest, the effect of man on the
countryside can be described numerically, perhaps on a scale
of one to ten,
one being unspoilt, ten being totally reconstructed land.
Someone's property is not isolated or an island (unless it is!) it must be
within someone else's property, in the sense of being surrounded in part
by one or more landowners. The collection of this land together forms part
of the landscape we see; or even all of what we can see. We may be very
fortunate in that living in the area of Freshford Mill we have a wonderful
landscape. This landscape does not belong to any one individual, and
even if it did, it would perhaps, one hopes, hardly be subject to the
threat of development that lovers of beautiful countryside are concerned
with here in Freshford.
No, we as individuals don't own
the land and neither does the Crown, although the law says we do. But only
because, I sincerely hope, that the law is meant to protect the people and
what the people value, and that must also mean protecting the land.
Ownership is important, we are more likely to value something if we own it
and have bought it ourselves. But to believe that we can own part of the
universe and destroy or deface that which is not ultimately ours is surely
Am I naive? has the countryside to all intents and purposes gone? Should
those few people of nearby towns and cities who still need to experience
the countryside have to go further afield to experience some peace and
quiet; where will they find it? the lake district? the welsh