Juneathon 2012 Day 29 - The built environment
Cycle -14 miles, Time 1hr 10min, Weather - bright and sunny but strong gusty wind
The photo today was taken somewhere between Hemel Hempstead and St Albans but the location was arbitrary: almost any point along my route would have done as well. All I wanted was to give an indication of the countryside I cycle through and how empty and rural the landscape can be, even though I am only 30 miles from the centre of London, beside two major motorways and close to a number of towns of varying size. This is quite a densely inhabited part of the world but a few pedal strokes and I am here: in the open, overlooking fields and woods.
I wanted to show this because it relates to something quite surprising I read in Mark Easton's blog about how much of the UK was built on (including roads and railways as well as buildings). Before you guess remember that 80% of us live in towns and cities and have eyelines full of concrete, bricks and tarmac. Before you guess also remember that we humans are not equipped with an instinctive feel for statistics and tend to jump to conclusions based on easily available images (in this case houses, streets and people). So with those provisos and the picture in mind you all should have lowered your initial guess but so I am willing to bet you will still be surprised at the answer: in England 2.3% of the land is built on, in Scotland 0.4%, Wales 0.9%, and Northern Ireland 0.8%, giving an overall figure for the UK of 1.5%.
Even though I spend some of my time cycling round country lanes and am aware of how much open landscape there is, I am still surprised. My guess, for what it is worth, was 10%.