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Re-open the Crags!

Posted by Josh Greenwood, Wednesday, April 4, 2001

I have read the contributions of Mark and Emma and I am still of the view that Hardcastle Crags should be re-opened. The Crags may be surrounded by farmland but so are all the roads and lanes round here. In fact, walking along one of the hill roads puts you far nearer to farmland than you would be in the Crags. I read a newspaper letter the other day where the correspondent wondered whether the policy of closing all footpaths, though most run nowhere near any foot and mouth infected areas is similar to the collection of iron railings during the second world war - ie, no practical purpose but makes everyone aware there is a crisis.

The Ramblers Association have called for the re-opening of paths outside infected area. It's time to re-open the Calder Valley. I am very pleased for Mark that he only has to look out of his window to see the Crags. Most of us are not so privileged.

The crisis should open a debate locally as well as nationally about the future of farming. Hillfarming sheep is clearly no longer profitable. I have heard it suggested more than once that many local farmers would be happy to get foot and mouth because the money they would receive in compensation would be far greater than they might otherwise earn.

While I accept there are many caring farmers who do their best, most modern farming is not a smiley, cottage industry. To quote a letter from yesterday's Guardian. "Animal farming is brutal, squalid and ruthless. That infectious disease flourishes is no accident. Salmonella, E coli, bovine TB, BSE, swine fever, foot and mouth signal that industrialised farming is in a state of perpetual crisis."

Emma, if you are studying agriculture you are in a good position to help find a new way - and one that doesn't depend upon the idle rich playing soldiers with the grouse. A little history would soon convince you that sheep and grouse are not the only things that grow round here. Potatoes, forests, all sorts of vegetables and fruit, windfarms and other things that we can't yet imagine. Power from the water ran the first mills. These hills are a wonderful resource for the people who live round here. Lets find a way where we can work in harmony the land around us and never again see those terrible killing fields, organo phosphates leaking into waterways, poor defenseless animals tortured into living out their lives without the space to turn round and all the other horrors of "modern" industrial farming.

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