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Director’s bulletin, April 2015

Wednesday, 01 April 2015 15:44

Funding application success

CPRE Avonside awarded Bristol Green Capital 2015 Small Grants Fund to tackle litter

We are delighted that the Quartet Community Foundation and Bristol 2015 Small Grants Fund have awarded us £5,709 to set up a community litter warden scheme in Bristol. We hope to work with existing community groups, neighbourhood partnerships and litter picking groups, to establish litter wardens in Bristol neighbourhoods. They will be given a one off honorarium of £100 Bristol pounds and their own CPRE/Green Capital branded litter picking kit. They will be responsible for local litter picking, and organising community litter picking events. If you are interested in this scheme or know someone who may be, please contact Sophie Spencer on 07854 741130.

Andrew Motion on litter

andrew-motionCPRE’s President recently wrote an article which lamented the lack of political will in our leaders to tackle our costly litter problem. Changing our litter habit would benefit our beautiful countryside and our local communities. A recent Communities and Local Government Report on litter and fly tipping shows that there is some move in the right direction, but only if recommendations are implemented will we see a real change in behaviour backed up by real powers. CPRE were delighted that the Government announced a charge for plastic bags will come into place in October 2015. We have been campaigning for years for this and teamed up with other organisations to set up the ‘Break the Bag Habit’ campaign. No need to wait until October though. You can pledge now to stop using single use plastic bags at breakthebaghabit.org.

Funding from CPRE National Office to promote local foods in the Green Belt

local-foods-in-the-green-beltCPRE Avonside have been successful in funding bid to CPRE National Office, open to all Branches with Green Belt. We will use the money to promote the Green Belt as a source of local foods for Bristol and Bath. We have a number of events planned where we will be promoting local foods: North Somerset Show (May 4th), the Bristol Festival of Nature (June 13th/14th) and the Bath and North East Somerset AGM (June). If you would like to volunteer to help out at any of these events, or have ideas for promoting local foods from our Green Belt, please contact Sophie Spencer on 07854 741130. Many thanks to those who have volunteered already.

General election approaching fast

hustingsYou may have noticed that we have an election coming up! CPRE Bath and North East Somerset were the first CPRE group to hold a hustings event, and were featured in a recent national officeParliamentary Newsletter. We have plenty of CPRE leaflets if any members are interested in promoting the countryside at an event in the next few months (contact Sophie on 07854 741130).
We are asking our members to help us to encourage all political parties to stand up for the countryside at the forthcoming general election by sending a letter to their local parliamentary candidates – click this link to Please send a letter to your parliamentary candidates.

New CPRE Report finds houses planned for the Green Belt are at the highest level since the start of new planning policy

green-beltThe Prime Minister recently declared that preservation of the Green Belt was ‘paramount’ and that development in Green Belt was at its lowest for 25 years. Not so. CPRE’s recent report Green Belt under siege: the NPPF three years on finds that over 219,000 houses are planned for England’s Green Belt – 60,000 more than August 2013 when CPRE last counted. This brand new research, with the help of CPRE’s branches, shows that more houses are planned for Green Belt land now than when the Government’s planning reform – the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – was implemented three years ago. Green Belt designation was formally introduced in 1955 to prevent urban sprawl. Organisations from UN Habitat to the European Union have argued that unhindered urban sprawl causes economic and social dislocation.

The report comes hot on the heels of another piece of research published by CPRE in November From wasted space to living spaceswhich showed there is no shortage of brownfield land available across the country on which to build new houses. The report by the University of the West of England, showed there is capacity for at least one million homes on suitable brownfield land, including in Bristol. It showed that brownfield land is a renewable resource.

Better recognition for landscape character

landscape-characterCPRE were delighted that protection of landscape character – the ordinary countryside that is so often highly valued by local people – has received a boost from the Government. On 27 March, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Brandon Lewis MP, wrote a letter to the Chief Executive of the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) to highlight several recent appeal cases in which harm to landscape character has been an important consideration in an appeal being dismissed. The Planning Minister states that National Parks and AONBs should rightly have the highest level of planning protection; but that outside of these designated areas the impact of development on the landscape can be important. In an application for 60 dwellings in Cheshire, with no adopted local plan and lack of five year land supply, the inspector concluded that the proposals would result in ‘obvious and irrevocable damage to the surrounding countryside and the character of this clear edge to the settlement…’

While the NPPF does mention the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside this has been largely ignored in planning decisions until recently. The letter to the Planning Inspectorate does not count as official policy but does demonstrate a shift in attitude by the Government. It represents a victory for CPRE as this is a concession to our comments on the draft NPPF that wider countryside should be protected.

Photo credit: Mark Howson

CPRE’s new report says huge investment is needed in energy efficiency to avoid disastrous impacts on the countryside

multio-fuel-stoveIn 2008 the Government passed the Climate Change Act, setting a legally binding target to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent (from the 1990 baseline) by 2050. Based on research conducted by Cambridge Architectural Research and Anglia Ruskin University for CPRE,Warm and Green finds that we can cut carbon emissions from homes by 44 per cent through an ambitious retrofitting programme. We need to massively reduce energy requirements if we are even to approach our 2050 carbon reduction target and avoid inflicting widespread damage on the countryside. The impact of infrastructure on the countryside is potentially huge if old and new homes remain energy inefficient. One scenario to meet the current demand is to plant half of England with biomass crops, build 3,500 new wind turbines, and install 8,000 hectares of new solar panels.

Energy efficiency has been underplayed in discussions on England’s future energy supply and there are currently high barriers to overcome before making energy improvements in rural homes and community buildings. There is a particular dearth of funding for improvements in rural areas – 18 per cent of the population live in rural areas, but receive less than 1 per cent of funding for energy efficiency improvements. We need more support to reduce energy and carbon emissions from our homes, and for rural communities to receive a fairer share of funding for energy efficiency. Read the report here.

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