The natural world

THE countryside does matter. It is Britain’s greatest natural asset and is invariably taken for granted – people often only become aware of its importance when open spaces are threatened with development. By then, it can be too late.

Yet this mindset is not unique to this region’s national parks, impressive though they are. It applies to green spaces in urban locations as well as wetlands and river estuaries that enable nature to flourish. As such, it is welcome that the Government is committed to improving the natural habitats in both the Dearne Valley and along the Humberhead Levels. Though not as celebrated as some Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, they, nevertheless, play an important role in sustaining the eco-system.

The key is making more local people aware of the importance of these sites and to ensure that their behaviour, or the decision-making of public bodies, does not jeopardise the evolution of natural environments that, thankfully, enjoy special status at a time when the Government is being criticised for relaxing its laws on planning.