The European Landscape Convention

Posted: August 27, 2009 in cornish heritage, environment, europe

I’ve lifted the below from another one of my blogs as it deserves the attention. This version comes with the comments of Cornwall Councillor Bert Biscoe added at the end.

No doubt many in Cornwall will now have heard about the Council of Europe’s (CoE) framework convention for the protection of national minorities (FCNM) and the vital support it would give to indigenous Cornish culture and heritage if only the UK government agreed to recognised the Cornish as a national minority.

Now though I would like to bring peoples attention to another Council of Europe convention that has potential interest for Kernow.

The European Landscape Convention (ELC) has been in force in the UK since 1 March 2007. Specifically included within its scope are the coastal waters and territorial seas of its ratifying states. The ELC contains a range of measures aimed at promoting landscape protection, management and planning, underpinned by principles of sustainable development. It specifically recognises the role of landscape as a basic component of cultural heritage and identity and as an important contributor to quality of life, from which its management is a legitimate object of public interest. It also requires that landscape policies should be integrated with all spheres of government policy.

It is also important to note that under article 5 of the ELC each state has undertaken to “establish procedures for the participation of the general public, local and regional authorities, and other parties with an interest in the definition and implementation of the landscape policies”.

I would suggest all interested parties need to know the details of the UK Implementation Guidelines that are due to go to Cornwall Council for comment. How if at all will the Cornish public and cultural organisations be able to participate in its implementation in the Duchy?

The CoE has this to say in summary of the ELC:

The Convention aims to encourage public authorities to adopt policies and measures at local, regional, national and international level for protecting, managing and planning landscapes throughout Europe. It covers all landscapes, both outstanding and ordinary, that determine the quality of people’s living environment. The text provides for a flexible approach to landscapes whose specific features call for various types of action, ranging from strict conservation through protection, management and improvement to actual creation.

The Convention proposes legal and financial measures at the national and international levels, aimed at shaping “landscape policies” and promoting interaction between local and central authorities as well as transfrontier cooperation in protecting landscapes. It sets out a range of different solutions which States can apply, according to their specific needs.

The Council of Europe intergovernmental committees will be supervising the convention’s implementation. The text also provides for a Council of Europe Landscape award, to be given to local or regional authorities or an NGO which introduced exemplary and long-lasting policies or measures to protect, manage and plan landscapes.

Others organisations working with the ELC include:

ICOMOS-UK

European Landscape Network bringing together local and regional authorities, NGOs and Universities in support of the ELC.

From Councillor Biscoe:

Bearing in mind that Cornwall is a very diverse of set of interlocking and contrasting landscapes which go to make up a whole that plays on the emotions and intellects of people all over the world, and which evokes strong senses of belonging and rootedness in very many people, not least the diaspora of the indigenous people, and that one of the defining characteristics of our peninsula is its close relationship with the ocean, then it seems to me that we should be pressing the Government to specify the whole of Cornwall as a territory to which the Convention should apply.

We should not forget that some of our landscapes are the products of industrial activity – not least the china clay mining landscape and the already celebrated Cornish mining landscapes. These two have very distinctive qualities both physically and aesthetically – and both shape particular cultures amongst the inhabitants which foster strong, sustainable and cohesive communities. Other aspects of our landscapes are ancient sites of former habitation, religious and burial practise, places of mystery, pre-christian worship and the age of the saints (especially Perranporth and the Meneage) – all evoke very strong narrative resonances that find expression even in the platitudes and shallowness of modern, media-driven society. Almost every time we see a greefield site let go by planners we are losing ancient sites, archaeology and rootedness. There is no substitute for the real thing!

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