Ignore the headline of the linked article and the jazzy photo that goes with it and this is a revealing item giving an insight into two potentially clashing areas.
The first is the impact of diversification on rural land holdings and the realisation on behalf of many landowners that they need to optimise their incomes by thinking creatively.
As there is so much in Britain, this is often location specific – if you are near a large population, the opportunities that arise from using land for leisure - festivals, camping, biking or related new lines of business like hosting filming are really significant. It becomes more difficult to do so people and infrastructure recede.
Some of this consumer diversification has a real headline-grabbing impact. And for the rural story as a whole diversification like this is surely a good thing, as it gets people involved in the countryside who might not otherwise be, and builds a connection between urban and rural areas. But the level of challenge that this presents, and the mindset needed to undertake this sort of diversification, whether a massive festival or a small farm shop cannot be underestimated.
The other flavour coming out from this article is a social justice/land reform theme that is never far away when dealing with rural land in Britain:
The roots of today’s land inequalities are embedded in Britain’s colonial past. Peasants’ rights to common land were severed from the mid-18th century. Then, flush with newfound wealth amassed from overseeing forced labour and extraction in the global south, elites carried out a series of land enclosures in the UK — forcibly marking out their ever-widening estates. “People were excluded from the land on pain of transportation [to penal colonies in Australia] or hanging,”
This is a delicate balance. Access to land in Britain is extensive, through the public footpath network, but that is not enough for many, and the weight of history is often used to back up modern resentments, such as in the recent Dartmoor wild camping case. It’s good example of where public sentiment or (more likely) the loudest voices on X/Twitter can go.
That makes some of these diversifications a potential minefield. The resistance of neighbours to non-farming diversification is a well-known feature and that can be compounded by the opening of Pandora’s Box - represented by crowds of festival-goers engaging with land they've never been on before.
The Secret Force Behind UK Music Festivals? Landed Gentry Aristocrats are making a killing renting out their estates.