14 February 1997

Kiss of death for Living Land

MILLENNIUM Commission chiefs have dashed hopes for a £13.5m educational project, put forward by the Country Landowners Association in a bid to provide people with a greater understanding of the countryside.

Rejecting the project, the Millennium Commission said the CLAs Living Land project was not as distinctive as other schemes.

The Living Land project proposed to have a high-tech resource centre at Southwark Market, London, and five regional centres around the country.

Hugh Duberly, chairman of the CLAs project, said that while the Millennium Commission had actively encouraged umbrella bids from countryside organisations in 1996, only three nationwide bids had reached the next stage. "We see this as yet again a situation where the rural voice is not being heard. There is a clearly identified need for an educational initiative to encourage greater understanding of the countryside, yet few educational projects feature on the final list."

The only agricultural project remaining is in Derbyshire, where proposals by the National Forest Company for a £6m National Forestry Discovery Centre for leisure and education have gone forward to the next stage of bidding.