European Council for the Village and Small Town

ECOVAST UK Discussion


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April 2015 Report of the UK Section of ECOVAST

Posted by ecovast on June 24, 2015 at 3:15 AM Comments comments (10)

There have been no formal meetings of the UK Section in 2013/2014.


Much of the time and effort of the UK members has been taken up with the publications that mark the end of the ASSET Project. The ASSET funding was from UK sources, notably through the now demised SEEDA with support from the also disbanded Commission for Rural Communities, with no specific requirements for monitoring. Despite attempts to seek INTERREG funding for cross border activities, no European Union funding was gained. Featuring small towns in several recent ECOVAST International conferences, linked to general assemblies, has allowed the ASSET funding to contribute to the costs of these events, reducing the contribution from ECOVAST international funds.


In the Spring 2015 Newsletter 58, for which Phil Turner (UK) is editor, the informal meeting of the UK Chairman, Secretary, Editor, members Trevor Kearley and Michael Dower was noted.

Our two members welcomed the ASSET publications, and the comprehensive information and data they contained, but urged that ECOVAST International should consider, at the ending of the ASSET Project, what POLICY stances on SMALL TOWNS should be taken to influence the European Commission, Parliament, and member states.


As ECOVAST is a member of Europa Nostra, ECOVAST UK has been active on the Europa Nostra UK committee, with Phil Turner succeeding Pam Moore in 2013.

Through Europa Nostra and the Heritage Alliance at UK and European levels, the ECOVAST UK Section has participated in the “Creative Europe” activities, aimed at promoting the Cultural Heritage to the EU and European Parliament. This was reported in the Spring 2015 ECOVAST Newsletter 58. The initiative for this was based on the EU Lisbon Agenda paragraph 3.3 and launched In Amsterdam in 2011 at which ECOVAST was represented by the UK Section.


Following involvement in 2013 with UK government ministry (DEFRA) consultation events on CAP funding, in 2014 Phil Turner, for ECOVAST UK, participated in LEADER LAG stakeholder events in Hampshire and Sussex, aimed to influence their local development strategies.

He also contributed to “Critical Spaces” edited by Alexandru Calcatinge of ECOVAST Austria in an article related to landscape character assessment and community led local development (CLLD - a European Commission element of the 2014 - 2020 programme of integrated funding). With Valerie Carter, in 2013, he participated in the European Rural Parliament in Brussels. Following that he joined a discussion group on CLLD which has now ceased to be active.


A Rural Parliament was established in 2014 for Scotland (surviving at present in the UK). There is no other Rural Parliament in the UK as yet. Action for Communities in Rural England, ACRE, is the national champion for the next European Rural Parliament to be held in the town of Schärding in Upper Austria on 4 to 6 November 2015.


At the year end 31 December 2014, the ECOVAST UK accounts showed a balance of £4,009.01, of which £2,452.43 remained in the ASSET Project. In January and February 2015 the postage costs of the ASSET publications have been £1,159.00. After the events in the Czech Republic, at which small towns will be the dominant topic for the last time, the ASSET balance will be reduced to a very small amount, signifying the end of the project.


The UK members subscriptions for 2014 amounted to £180 of which £60 would have been due to

ECOVAST International. Against that, UK paid a total of £769 on behalf of ECOVAST International: - Europa Nostra subscription £70; IC costs in UK £201.60; printing of ECOVAST 30 years leaflet £180; Postage to international sections of leaflet £97.72; Website hosting £220.


As a result, the amount due, at the end of 2014, to ECOVAST UK from the international account was £514.00. Phil Turner


Posted by ecovast on June 24, 2015 at 3:10 AM Comments comments (0)

In this edition, Valerie Carter, re-elected as President at the Biennial Assembly, writes of that meeting and other events in the Czech Republic. The significance of place is the subject of an article by Royston Edge, new ECOVAST UK member, and place related to arts was the theme of the UK Europa Nostra Conference and visits in Cambridge in April.


Cultural Landscape is featured in a new project ‘Living on the Rural Edge’ which our contacts in the Czech republic have joined, and in several of the forthcoming events at the end of the newsletter concern landscapes.

A PDF of this newsletter can be accessed at:



Please send copy for the next Newsletter to me, at [email protected] by 1 October 2015



International Committee Member of ECOVAST


ECOVAST NEWS 58 February 2015

Posted by ecovast on March 15, 2015 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)



Details of the ECOVAST Biennial General Assembly conference, 27 - 31 March 2015, in the Czech Republic and visits are available in the events pages at the end of this Newsletter.

In Cambridge, 7 - 9 April, Europa Nostra UK has a conference.


All are welcome to attend the Biennial Assembly in Františkovy Lázně, West Bohemia, Czech Republic in March.

Several of us that will be there are also attending the Europa Nostra conference in Cambridge UK in April, including Valerie Carter, Tihana Fabijanić, Angus Fowler, Pam Moore, and myself. We hope to see you there. The theme is ‘Contribution of the Arts to the Understanding of the Significance of Place’.

This is timely, as Europa Nostra reports progress in this newsletter of recognition of the significance of the cultural heritage in Europe by the European Union, European Parliament and the Council of Europe. The new Europa Nostra project “ENtopia: Our Places in Europe” widens commitment to heritage by extending concern for and support to the most distinguished amongst the small local communities all over our continent - small towns, neighbourhoods and villages. They are a potent expression of the power of example both in preserving our shared cultural heritage and in pointing the way to a healthy and sustainable future of Europe.

Phil Turner


ECOVAST NEWS 57 November 2014

Posted by ecovast on November 24, 2014 at 12:20 PM Comments comments (0)


Valerie Carter announces that the ECOVAST General Assembly is to be in the Czech Republic in March 2015. 

Activities in the Czech Republic are to be found in the reports from ECOVAST Sections.

ECOVAST Austria members have been active in Slavonice  and in contact with Pilsen.

Croatia has featured Czech Architects’ work and influence on tourism, and Olga Sevan of Russia attended a conference at the Wallachian Open Air Museum. 

Civilscape informs us ( see events) that the Central European Landscape Forum will be in Pilsen in May 2015.

Pam Moore (UK) reports that the next European Route of Industrial Heritage Conference will be at Pilsen, Czech Republic from 21-23 October 2015.


7-9 April, 2015:  Europa Nostra UK Annual Meeting in Cambridge


Tihana Stepinac Fabijanić has been invited to speak at the conference of Europa Nostra UK - see events. We hope to see you there as well. ECOVAST UK has agreed to be a partner of the events in the historic and University City of Cambridge, and you are warmly welcomed to join the activities. Please contact me. <[email protected]>


The Croatian Kazun in the Peak National Park (UK) is further reported, and ECOVAST members from Croatia and Austria continue to be involved in the EU Danube Strategy.




ECOVAST News 56 July 2014

Posted by ecovast on July 27, 2014 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Issue number 56 of ECOVAST Report was issued on 27 July 2014

Phil Turner

Video on Common Agricultural Policy

Posted by ecovast on July 13, 2014 at 5:25 AM Comments comments (1)


News July 2014.

The Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission made contact with Mrs Magdalena Banu, of ECOVAST Romania, about the new communication campaign under the signature 'Europe's Common Agricultural Policy: Taking care of our roots'.

DG AGRI has issued a short and colourful animation ‘CAP – Produce Food’ highlighting the essential role farmers play in ensuring the supply of healthy, safe and affordable food.

The clip is free of charge and copyright and is available in 23 EU languages.

Phil Turner

Kiruna Northern Sweden - Town and church to be moved

Posted by ecovast on April 2, 2014 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Phil Turner comments:

Looks like planning decisions are made, so no chance to object.

Moving the stunning church will be an 'oeuvre celebre'.

There does not seem to be much other 'cultural heritage'.

And all the work has to be done in the summer daylight, so far north.

Iron ore is a major source of income for the town as is tourism. The necesssary move of the whole town is aimed to keep both.

The plans for the new town centre seek to improve the arctic microclimate for residents and to provide facilties that can attract and keep women in a male dominated locality.

There is concern over the level of compensation for houseowners and whether it will be enough to cover the prices of new homes, which cannot yet be predicted.

Fascinating, important but necessary change, possibly for the better.

Kiruna: How to move a town two miles east By Tabby Kinder


Kiruna, Sweden This spring work will begin to move Sweden's northernmost town two miles to the east. Over the next 20 years, 20,000 people will move into new homes, built around a new town centre, as a mine gradually swallows the old community. It's a vast and hugely complicated undertaking. "When people hear that we're designing, creating and building a whole new city from scratch they think we're doing a utopian experiment," says architect Mikael Stenqvist. But there's too much at stake to think of it as an experiment, he says. "If this project goes wrong, the survival of Kiruna, its inhabitants and its economy is at stake. That gives us great concern - unlike any other project we work on." More than 3,000 apartment blocks and houses, several hotels and 2.2m sq ft (0.2m sq m) of office, school and hospital space will be emptied over the next two decades - while alternatives are built on the new site. The old church voted Sweden's most beautiful building in 2001 will be taken apart, piece by piece, and rebuilt. "We want to have as much of the existing character from the old city as possible, but costs and market mechanics mean we can't move everything," says Stenqvist. The move has been dictated by the local iron mine - one of the most valuable iron ore deposits in the whole of Sweden, and Kiruna's largest employer. The story began in 2004, when the state-owned mining company, Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB (LKAB), sent a letter to the local government explaining that it needed to dig deeper into a hill just outside the town, which could cause the ground beneath thousands of apartments and public buildings to crack or give way. A decade later, sure enough, huge fissures are appearing across the city, creeping towards the centre. "Everyone that lives in Kiruna has known that the city will eventually be relocated - everyone can see the mines eating up the city," says Viktoria Walldin, one of the social anthropologists hired to work on the relocation. "The question has always been when." Kiruna's inhabitants have been living in a "subliminal state" for almost 15 years, Walldin says, unable to make major life decisions such as buying a house, redecorating, having a child or opening a business. "Now it's finally time for a lot of people who have mentally been living in a state of stasis for years to finally release themselves and think: 'It's finally happening, I'm going to be able to make investments and plans for the rest of my life.' Page 1 of 3BBC News - Kiruna: How to move a town two miles east 02/04/2014 18:21 "They want to see a school, a hospital - until then they're sceptical... they've been being told the relocation is about to happen forever." For them, the groundbreaking at the new town centre next month will be a momentous event. The number of people involved in a project of this scale exceeds the thousands and includes city planners, architects, landscape designers, biologists, urban designers, civil engineers, demolition and construction experts and builders, as well as social anthropologists like Walldin. The Stockholm-based architects White Arkitekter AB, which won the contract to design the new Kiruna, envisages a denser city centre with a greater focus on sustainability, pedestrians and public transport than automobiles. The city's location 145km (90 miles) north of the Arctic Circle means that it's in perpetual daylight from May to August and perpetual darkness from December to late January. Temperatures remain below -15C (5F) for much of the year, with snowfall all year round. "Narrow streets in the designs will break the wind and cold better, but then the city will be harder to navigate," says Stenqvist. "We have specialists looking at how to construct houses and buildings in this climate while still having a low energy impact." A new town hall, planned for completion in 2016, will be accompanied by a public square and a train station, on a plot that currently houses a half-occupied industrial estate. One of Walldin's jobs is to talk to people to find out what they want from the new town, and to convey that to the architects. "There is a tension between nature and culture in Kiruna," says Walldin. "The city has never had culture in its existence - places to meet, eat and interact. We want to make sure the department of culture, of social welfare, of leisure are all consulted to provide movie theatres, swimming halls, football arenas in the new city." The new town could also solve some of Kiruna's problems - including a severe gender imbalance. "This is a very male-dominated city as most young women move away," says Walldin. "The new city desperately needs to be able to attract women to live here." It's also hoped the new, improved city will encourage more tourists to the area, helping local business. The world-famous Ice Hotel in nearby Jukkasjarvi attracts more than 100,000 people to the area every year, but tourists rarely bother to make the 15-minute journey to Kiruna. From an anthropological point of view, there is one major concern - the "people in Kiruna who are stuck in old memories", as Walldin puts it. "You have to find a way to both respect the memories and take care of the people who have been living in limbo in this city for over a decade," she says. "People who had their first kiss on that bench or their first child in that hospital will now see these things totally disappear." Before anyone can move, LKAB has to buy their existing property, so that they can buy a new one in the new town. But the sums are nightmarish. "The general idea is for LKAB to purchase people's homes from them at market value plus 25%, and then sell them a property in the new city," says Stenqvist. "But how do you work out what the market value is for a house in a city that doesn't even exist?" White Arkitekter have monitored all the housing lettings in nearby cities over a period of years, and then "tagged" the Kiruna houses with each asset they possess, such as space, gardens, and proximity to the city centre. "We're even putting a monetary value on bus stops - how close a house is to one could be very important in a new city designed Page 2 of 3 BBC News - Kiruna: How to move a town two miles east 02/04/2014 18:21 around its public transport system," Stenqvist says. Similarly, shop and business owners who believe they have a "good spot" in the current city have voiced concerns over their proposed, but yet unknown, location in the new one. "It's a new situation and no-one really knows how to handle it," says Yvel Sievertsson, urban transformation officer at LKAB. "We have hundreds of people working on the issue alone, including researchers at the University of Stockholm. The goal is to have the new city centre ready before we start to move everyone over, and then to move everyone at once in one or two stages, to impact people's businesses as little as possible." "We have been around the world looking at how other countries like Germany and parts of Africa have handled similar projects, but they are just moving small villages and houses, not huge city centres," says Sievertsson. "We're using all the expertise we can to help us, but it's a completely unknown situation." Paradoxically, new housing will have to be built in the existing town, before work gets going on the new one, as Kiruna needs up to 800 more living spaces in order to house the workers coming to build the new city. "It's a Catch 22 situation," says Peter Johansson, construction manager at NCC, the company leading the building of the new town. The sheer scale of the plans mean anxiety is rising over whether the project will be completed on schedule. "The municipality and LKAB think we can build this entire city in four or five years, but it's impossible," says Johansson. "It's more of a vision than a truth that the building will begin this spring. We should have started building in 2009 or 2010. "We have about 250 people working on the sites but we need more than 1,000. We would need workers from all over Scandinavia to make this project possible." LKAB has already spent 4bn kronor (£366m, or $612m) on the project to date and has earmarked 7.5bn kronor for the remaining transformation, though it says it's impossible to estimate the total cost of the project. A sense of waiting for something to happen is tangible, but the town's residents largely support the relocation. The local economy is almost entirely dependent on the success of the mine. "LKAB manages the mine, gives people work, and some of Kiruna's inhabitants have become very wealthy from it," says Walldin. "The mine is the reason they are all there." Follow @BBCNewsMagazine on Twitter and on Facebook

Death of Jane Wade UK ECOVAST member

Posted by ecovast on January 30, 2014 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (0)


We hear with great sadness that Jane Wade died suddenly and unexpectedly on 26 January 2014 from a brain haemorrhage.

See the condoleneces on the IN THE NEWS PAGE



ECOVAST REPORT 55 December 2013

Posted by ecovast on December 28, 2013 at 12:55 PM Comments comments (0)

On 20 December 2013 ECOVAST Newsletter 55 was issued.

A PDF of this newsletter can be accessed at:

ECOVAST attends DEFRA workshop on CAP REFORM

Posted by ecovast on December 28, 2013 at 12:35 PM Comments comments (0)

In November 2013, ECOVAST UK attended one of the DEFRA stakeholders workshops in England during the period of consultation on Common Agricultural Policy.

We responded:

to support an increase in payments in upland areas,

to favour an upper limit of £150,000 on single payments to farmers,

to support a proposed Young Farmers scheme, to welcome the proposed ‘landscape scale approach’ in environmental land management and were pleased that would include river catchment areas.

We emphasised the rural contribution that the Local Enterprise Partnership could make to sustaining rural services and small/medium enterprises, short supply chains and local markets. Extending LEADER to cover the rural area of England, gradually using the LEADER method to cover small towns so as to enhance urban/rural links were points urged, as well as more funding for LEADER, including access to EU funds other than EAFRD.

However we expressed concern that some water companies in moorland areas were causing damage to the environment through poor management of peat, although there was a good practice in northern England who have for some years been cooperating with Peak National Park, National Trust and moorland owners on a major 'Moors for the Future' scheme to halt erosion of soil, promote recovery of vegetation, improve public access and sequestrate carbon in the peat It was also made clear that estate owners of large areas dedicated to grouse and deer shooting were in the category of ‘operators of permanent sport and recreational grounds’ and thereby excluded from payments to active farmers.

Phil Turner

**breaking news 20 December CAP reform England: