CASE STUDIES

The Rural Environment – Thetford, Norfolk and Lanreath, Cornwall

The Rural Environment – Thetford, Norfolk and Lanreath, Cornwall

Thetford, Norfolk

The flat region of East Anglia has long been one of the most productive rural areas in Britain. Much of the output is fruit and vegetables, both of which are best picked by hand. In recent years, a huge influx of migrants has arrived in towns like Thetford to pick fruit and earn money.

There are now an estimated 10,000 Portuguese people living in Thetford alone. They now have their own newspaper, places to socialise and clubs. However this has led to tensions with some local people who feel they are changing the character of the area and taking ‘local jobs’.

Around Thetford there are large expanses of land on which crops are grown, and also factory farms. In order to make the farming process more efficient, many hedgerows have been knocked down, with a dramatic effect on local wildlife. Farming had to become more efficient in order to compete with the cheaper produce that supermarkets and food processing companies can import from abroad.

For decades farmers have used pesticides and other artificial means to ensure their crops aren’t devoured by insects. In recent years consumers have become more aware that the chemicals used in pesticides can be harmful and so now some farmers are turning to organic farming, where the use of pesticides and other harmful products is curtailed.

Once it became apparent that pesticides were having a damaging effect on the countryside and on consumers, the government encouraged farmers to become efficient in more environmentally friendly ways. Farmers were given grants to take land out of production and encouraged to rotate crops.

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Case study: Lanreath, Cornwall

Lanreath is a beautiful village near Looe in Cornwall, but it is slowly dying. When homes become empty they are often bought by affluent outsiders from the city; these outsiders use their new property as a holiday home or second home and so it remains empty most of the week.

House prices are pushed up by this surge in demand but local people don’t have the money to buy them, and so they move away – often to the city. As the population declines, schools, post offices, pubs and shops begin to close. Lanreath no longer has a bus service and many locals fear that if the school closes down the village will cease to exist.