County Life Today: The battle for the skies above Britain’s most spectacular monuments

Who owns the skies above places such as Stonehenge? What do farmers want subsidies to be spent on in post-Brexit Britain? And have you remembered to celebrate The Beatles today? Our daily news round-up has all this and more.

Heritage guardians vs drone pilots in fight for control of the skies above our greatest national treasures

The invention of the drone has given a whole new generation of amateur photographers an extraordinary way to capture beautiful images of our greatest national monuments, as the image above shows.

Yet such wonderful pictures have come at a high cost: it’s more and more common for visits to sites such as Stonehenge to be blighted by the persistent mosquito-esque whine of a drone in the sky above.

With heritage organisations now banning such flights, trouble is brewing: according to a report in The Times, English Heritage says that drones ‘pose a risk to sensitive historic sites as well as to people visiting them.’

But the drone pilots are hitting back, ‘pointing out that landowners do not own the airspace and that if pilots wait until sites close and visitors leave, they are not breaking any rules provided they take off from a public footpath and stay 50 metres away from structures.’

This is one argument which will fly and fly…

Full story (The Times)


If you go down to the woods today…

…take a brolly.

Storm warnings stretch from Hull to Brighton today, with serious rain warnings in the north of Wales and Manchester. This is after yesterday, where severe rainstorms left one man in Scotland stranded on a car roof. So much for the weekend sun!

Complete map (The Met Office)


Farmers ‘want post-Brexit payments to support environment, not productivity’

Sunset over farm land with barley blowing in the breeze

As Brexit gets closer, the farming community’s debate about how future subsidies should be used is heating up. And the Farmers’ Guardian today reports on a fascinating survey of farmers, suggesting that they’re generally keen to see funding go to environmental schemes rather than any sort of CAP-replacement.

‘Farmers are key guardians of our environment, and this research shows they know it is vital to our farming future to prioritise fixing the natural resources farms rely on,’ says Helen Cheshire, senior farming adviser at the Woodland Trust.

Full story (Farmers’ Guardian)


The path to a flying bacon sandwich

We have the bread. Now we just need the proverbial flying pigs, and breakfast in the clouds is all sorted.

Full story (StokeonTrentLive)


The £2.4m renovation bill for Frogmore Cottage, the Sussexes’ new home

Frogmore Cottage in the grounds of Frogmore House, Frogmore Estate, Windsor, UK, home of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Frogmore Cottage in the grounds of Frogmore House

The Sovereign Grant — formerly known as the Civil List — is a weird and wonderful thing, especially for those of us who aren’t pecuniarily inclined. Essentially, it is based on 15% of the net surplus of the Crown Estate which, in 2018-2019 was £82m, with £33m set aside for maintenance.

You’d think that given the benefits the crown brings to the nation people would have stopped quibbling about how that sum is then divvied up, but it’s not stopped many news outlets this morning grumbling about ‘£2.4m of taxpayers’ money’ being used to renovate Frogmore Cottage, the new home of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

The Palace have made it clear that the money spent on Frogmore Cottage only covers the basic renovation of the property, incidentally, with anything beyond fixtures and fittings being be paid for by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan.

Full story (BBC News)


Stat of the Day

300%

The amount by which G20 nations have increased subsidies to the coal industry over the past decade, despite all the rhetoric about our green energy future.

Full story (The Guardian)


Northern Island rivers struggle to meet EU targets

The Shimna River in Tollymore Forest Park in Northern Ireland.

The Shimna River in Tollymore Forest Park in Northern Ireland.

Northern Island will have trouble meeting the ambitious targets set to clean up their rivers. Former government scientist Bob Foy says that less than a third of the country’s 450 rivers currently score high enough on the EU’s parameters to be considered in ‘good condition’.

Mr Foy said that the problem lies with nutrients present in the soil after decades of concentrated agriculture, but that the proposed solution is too simplistic.

‘The modelling would suggest that you’re supposed to take out large amounts of the landscape from agriculture and put it into non-intensive land uses like forestry.’ Mr Foy told the BBC.

‘But that to me seems to be unacceptable to the people who live in the countryside. We have a living countryside which supports communities and it’s how to get that balance between the two.’

Full Story (BBC News)


And finally…today is Global Beatles Day