Sometimes I wonder. Think about a National Park for a second - you might come up with images of the Lake District, a grand Cairngorm or Sussex's rolling downs. Maybe your thoughts stray a little further to embrace a wilderness park like Yellowstone or even the Serengeti. I think of the Andalucian Sierras towering over the assorted Costas where we lounge, drink, eat and get sunburned.
But none of you thought of Birmingham!
"I think we have an extraordinary landscape here waiting to be discovered by millions,” says landscape architect Kathryn Moore, unrolling a jauntily coloured map of her visionary new park in a Birmingham City University office. The professor isn’t talking about of Cumbria, Umbria, Snowdonia or Amazonia. She’s talking about the touristic potential of the West Midlands plateau, the heart of England that threw itself into the fiery crucible of the Industrial Revolution and still bears sacrificial scars. It is here that Professor Moore wants to create the United Kingdom’s 16th national park.
Now I'm pretty sure that there's some great stuff about the 'west midlands plateau' but I'm also sure that it's importance isn't about its landscape, wildlife or ecology but rather the glimpses of industrial heritage, the prospect of culture and the attractions of the city. These aren't the stuff of national parks.
Why do people dream up this nonsense?