'The Clearances' still evoke deep passions in the Highlands where people were cleared off the hills in favour of sheep and grouse in the mid to late 1800s.

Now, a modern-day second 'Clearance' is on the cards if this country gets its Brexit deal badly wrong and if the prevalent, almost evangelical notion that trees will right all wrongs continues to be espoused unabated and unchallenged.

This time, we face the sterility of blanket woodland replacing hill flocks and grouse moors. And while the original 'Clearances' were done – rightly or wrongly (the argument still carries on) – in the name of agricultural improvement, they still left behind a semblance of communities to look after those sheep and to maintain those sporting estates.

Afforestation gives short-term succour to the local economy while planting takes place and then intermittently years apart – and only that – throughout the decades it takes for plantations to reach maturity and necessitate another quick burst of activity [though it will likely be robotic harvesters that will gather in the 'crop'].

Planting and the thinning does not require a permanent workforce, and will lead to the devastation of many local communities in some of our most fragile rural areas. Shops, schools, and infrastructure will melt down and even the availability of super-fast broadband won't stem that tide – should it ever arrive in time.

Furthermore, regardless of whether there's a deal or no deal on Brexit, it is going to be tough going in the hills, especially for sheep farmers – those that will be left filling in the gaps between forest. Should even the best Brexit deal be the outcome, there are some who predict that protectionism from those who currently take the majority of our lamb – ie, the French and Spanish – will do their utmost to disrupt that trade.

Those with long memories will remember well the havoc played out in French dockyards railing against the importation of UK lambs. Being a perishable product, it was not a profitable time to be an exporter – indeed, many businesses went to the wall as a result and the price of lamb crashed. And, some of that went on while we were actually supposed to be part of the European Union.

It would be folly to think that this government will have the cajones to stand up and fight for our right to export under such circumstances. It has already shown that short-term political expediency is the doctrine that it worships and it is running scared that food-flation will further tarnish an already grubby reputation, if that were at all possible.

It is a sad fact that already the only noise that can be heard in some or our remotest areas is the wind whistling through the tree tops and the half-swinging gate creaking to and fro' in some derelict bucht. There won't even be the evocative whistle of the peewit or the high pitched caw of the whaup ... Nothing, except perhaps the zing of a chainsaw!