Local Group Name - Campaign to Protect Rural England

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A new independent report published today has demonstrated that National Grid has greatly overestimated the costs of burying electricity cables underground. Campaigners are now calling for current plans to build nearly 300 miles of new overhead cables to be rethought [1].

On Tuesday a long delayed independent report into the real costs of undergrounding electricity cables as an alternative to ugly overhead lines and 50 metre high pylons is expected to be published [1].

Rural campaigners and astronomers are looking to recruit amateur star-gazers to help them map light pollution during their national Star Count Week starting on Friday 20 January.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) welcomes the Government's commitment to invest in rail rather than seeking to promote new roads or air travel.  But there is a long way to go before we can be sure that High Speed 2 (HS2) will not have an unacceptable impact on the landscape and local communities.

Countryside campaigners set out new vision for farming

More countryside could be lost in the absence of a clear policy of developing brownfield first.Photo: © CPRE
More countryside could be lost in the absence of a clear policy of developing brownfield first.Photo: © CPRE

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) today welcomed the call by a cross-party committee of MPs for ‘significant changes’ to improve the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) [1]. These suggested changes reflect many of CPRE’s aspirations for the final policy [2].

Kate Houghton, Planning Officer at the CPRE, says: ‘This report shows a strong cross-party consensus that the role of planning is to treat economic, environmental and social needs equally, not to favour short term economic growth at any cost. The Government must now make substantial changes to its proposed planning policies if we are to get the efficient, locally oriented and environmentally sensitive system we believe Ministers want.’

In the report the MPs:

  • call the document ‘unbalanced’ in favour of economic growth alone and call for the removal of a proposed default ‘yes’ to all new development;
  • state that the Government’s proposed ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ could undermine local plans;
  • call for a stronger definition of sustainable development, based on the UK’s Sustainable Development Strategy; and
  • highlight the ‘inevitable risk’ of more countryside being lost in the absence of a clear policy of developing brownfield (previously developed) sites before greenfield.

The draft NPPF, consulted on during the summer, sparked major interest and controversy, with over 14,000 public responses. Despite this, Ministers have said they do not propose to hold a second consultation in 2012. The MPs see a strong case, however, for a further short consultation with planning practitioners.

The MPs also criticise the ‘unhelpfully vague’ wording of the draft document. The Government claimed that condensing over 1,000 pages of current policy to just 52 would provide simplicity and clarity. The MPs instead conclude that the draft NPPF ‘does not achieve clarity by its brevity.’

Kate Houghton concluded: ‘We all want to see a return to a healthy economy. The Government will not achieve this by putting the countryside at risk of poor quality development and undermining cities by allowing greenfields to be built on before brownfield land. The Committee's conclusions are considered and well-informed and we urge the Government to respond positively. Otherwise we risk returning to the unsustainable development of a generation ago, when an area of countryside three times the size of Stevenage was built on each year.’


Notes to Editors

[1] For more details about the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee and its reports go to www.parliament.uk/clg.

[2] What CPRE wants to see from the National Planning Policy Framework, September 2011. Available from www.cpre.org.uk.

Sunday, 11 December 2011 15:41

Encouraging signs for the future of forestry

Countryside champions, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, welcome the Forestry Panel’s progress report [1] on their vision for the future of England’s forests but emphasise the need for stronger protection for trees in national planning policy.

In a move that serves once again to highlight the damaging role the Department of Business is playing in undermining environmental and countryside protections, Vince Cable’s Department has published a plan to force the Environment Agency, Natural England and English Heritage to promote ‘sustainable development’ [1].

Tuesday, 29 November 2011 17:12

Autumn statement: CPRE reaction

Autumn statement a road plan for disaster

Tuesday, 29 November 2011 13:20

Autumn statement: CPRE reaction

Autumn statement a road plan for disaster

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