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Threatened heritage landscapes

July 2012

Investigating how a range of 21st Century pressures can threaten the conservation of Britain’s historic urban and rural landscapes

How should our landscapes be managed? If a place is rich with heritage and memories, ought it be preserved and protected from future development? Or should landscapes, like the societies that people them, be allowed to undergo change in ways that reflect the evolving needs of those living in the present?

Two recent UK debates illustrate the complexities of this management challenge. In Yorkshire, modern wind turbines may soon be installed in the same rural landscape that inspired the classic novels of the Brontë sisters (protestors assert this will harm the tourist industry). In Liverpool, the city council recently gave its unanimous backing to a planning proposal that will bring a new complex of skyscrapers to the waterfront (but could rob the city of the unique historic skyline that gives it UNESCO World Heritage Site status). The Yorkshire plan has been justified in relation to energy security and climate change mitigation; Liverpool’s politicians are pursuing economic growth in a competitive global marketplace.

This article explores the decision-making in both cases and asks: should heritage sometimes give way to help provide people and places with an environmentally and economically sustainable future


Decision-making and conflict themes relating to energy, climate change mitigation, tourism and economic development are developed in this feature. Parts of the article are especially relevant for Edexcel students studying the geography of culture or rural landscapes (Unit 4), as well as urban rebranding of Liverpool (Unit 2). This article could be used to support IBO Diploma schemes of work for the teaching of ‘leisure, sport and tourism’.

In the Members' Area:

  • Wind and Wuthering: should wind turbines be built on the inspirational moorland made famous by Emily Brontë’s novel ‘Wuthering Heights’?
  • Grace under Pressure: will Liverpool’s bid to become a ‘global hub’ come at the cost of its World Heritage Site status?
  • What do geographers mean when they talk about ‘the cultural landscape’?
  • References

Sign in to read the full article. If you are not already a member you can join us as a School Member or Young Geographer and access our vast library of educational articles.


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