The South Hams Society help to celebrate 70 years of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act.
Didi Alayli, Chair of the South Hams Society and a member of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership Committee joined Roger English (Manager of the South Devon AONB Partnership) and others at South Down Farm on Saturday to celebrate seventy years of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act.
In 1947 the National Health Service was set up. in 1949, it was followed by the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, which paved the way for the creation of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Today there are forty-six AONB around the UK. When established, the act was dubbed the ‘Natural Health Service’ in recognition of all the health benefits that we get from the countryside. It was part of the post Second World War democratic settlement efforts, which saw the government rebuilding a sense of national identity in recognition of the part the citizens played – and for their sacrifices – during the war.
In his speech at the event, special guest TV presenter, Jonathan Dimbleby, talked about the independent Glover Review of AONB and National Parks which, he said, includes a strong recommendation to strengthen the protection of our most outstanding countryside.
Didi noted “we are delighted that the Glover Review proposes that more resources be put into protecting our special landscapes and that we should be aiming to ‘recover, conserve and enhance their natural beauty, biodiversity, natural capital, and cultural heritage’. This is very much in line with the published aims of the South Hams Society here in South Devon.”
To mark the occasion, Mr Dimbleby, an author and patron of South Devon AONB, read a poem written by poet laureate Simon Armitage while standing next to a love heart ploughed into the field at South Down Farm. Farming machinery dating back over the decades, accompanied by proud owners, also surrounded the heart to signify the development of farming down the years. The whole scene was filmed by drones flying overhead. agriculture continues to play a critical part in the life of the South Hams with seventy-eight percent of AONB land being farmed. The collection of agricultural machinery also underlined the key role of landowners and managers in maintaining our protected landscape.