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Gunning for rural England: the politics of the promotion of military land use in the Northumberland National Park

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rachel WoodwardORCiD


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The UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) on behalf of the armed forces owns substantial areas of land in the UK. Interest in the use and management of this land - the defence estate - has grown in the 1990s following changes in land use as a consequence of the restructuring of the armed forces. This paper examines the portrayal of military land use by the MoD, using a conceptual framework informed by theories of discourse and the social construction of rurality. Empirical evidence is drawn from a 1997 public inquiry into developments proposed by the MoD to the Otterburn Training Area in the Northumberland National Park. The paper examines how military training in a national park is constructed as a legitimate use of this space, with reference to discourses of conservation and environmental protection. The paper goes on to examine the ways in which the landscape of the training area is portrayed with reference to discourses about the appearance and consumption of the countryside. The paper concludes by looking at the effect of discourses of defence and national security in shaping the Otterburn debate, and in shaping the claims of the armed forces as defenders of the natural environment.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Woodward R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Rural Studies

Year: 1999

Volume: 15

Issue: 1

Pages: 17-33

Print publication date: 01/01/1999

ISSN (print): 0743-0167

ISSN (electronic): 1873-1392


DOI: 10.1016/S0743-0167(98)00051-5


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