Today, Lord Howell said in the House of Lords that there are “large and uninhabited and desolate” areas in the North East, where there is “plenty of room for fracking” away from “beautiful natural areas”. This is not a political blog and so I am not going to go into the debate about fracking. However, Lord Howell’s comments (for which he has now apologised) that the North East is a “desolate” place could not be more wrong.
Parts of the North East, and in particular Northumberland, are sparsely populated. But this does not make them desolate. On the contrary, the North East is absolutely full of natural beauty, interspersed with lovely country villages and towns, like Rothbury, the village where I grew up.
The scenery is bleaker and more rugged than areas such as the Lake District, but the North is home to some spectacular unspoiled landscapes.
It is also packed full of history which blends in seamlessly with the land. Hadrian’s Wall formed the frontier of the Roman empire…
…and the region was the front line of centuries of war between England and Scotland, and so Northumberland has more castles than any other county. This is Dunstanburgh castle, which was originally built in 1313 and is still standing (just!) to this day:
Even man made features can be just as beautiful as the natural features, such as Kielder reservoir (which is the biggest man-made lake in Northern Europe):
And the Northumberland coastline is stunning – the beaches are clean, wide and almost always deserted. Check out Bamburgh on the left and Druridge Bay on the right.
Lord Howell’s comments are unfortunate, and sum up exactly why there is a north/south divide in this country. To all of us proud northerners, it sounds like the comments of a southerner who is not interested and does not care what this region has to offer. I hope that it was only rash words and not meant in that way. I also hope that he will now take some time to actually look at the beautiful North in more detail to realise that it is not the “desolate” place he believes it to be,