Proud of…?

A week ago a poll emerged which showed that the countryside is top of the list for what makes us proud to be British.

Tomorrow the government will unveil its conclusions on the future of the planning system in England and it seems that the presumption in favour of ‘sustainable’ development will remain.  This pleases the CLA and the open letter from their President Harry Cotterell is worth a read.

It won’t mean the end of the green belt or less protection for European designated sites – but it will mean that the death from a thousand cuts for wildlife in the countryside will be accelerated by more and deeper assaults.  And, remember, according to the legal advice of the RSPB it will mean weaker protection for SSSIs.

What will the NGOs say on the day and how will they react if their lobbying has been ignored, as seems likely? Will they put a brave face on it? Will they lay into the government? Will they plan to exact any retribution on the ungreenest government ever?

I mean this seriously – what will be the response?  What political pain will the NGOs try to impose on the government?  Because if the answer is ‘none’ or ‘not much’ then that lets the government get away with it.  I look forward to seeing what the National Trust, CPRE, RSPB and others will say or do in response to tomorrow’s announcement.

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5 Replies to “Proud of…?”

  1. Probable the best thing which is happening in this country at the moment is the drought!! Because if a government think that allowing land owners to keep draining the uplands and lowlands the way they are doing the south can kiss ‘good by’ to any help from the north for any water as we will need it first. Who ever mentioned a ‘north-south divide’!!

  2. There are two very simple messages in all this – for Harry and the conservation lobby equally:

    – First, its up to both of you to find positive, forward looking solutions that make this country a better place to live.

    Conservation lobby protests can only hold back the tide – not actually improve things – there has to be a vision of a better way to do things and that is proving very, very hard to wrest out of today’s shell shocked conservation leaders.

    – Second, look at that poll, both of you, and in case you still don’t get it think about this time last year and the forest sales row – why oh why I still wonder can’t conservationists get over their predjucies and realise that the whole episode is the big opportunity to reallty recruit public support. and, for any developers who really think they are being let off the rein, just bear in mind that hiding behind the politicians won’t save you from the sort of backlash we saw over forestry sales.

    I do actually think Harry has some valid points which, were CLA to take responsibility for how new approaches to planning develop, could improve things – I’ve been concerned by planning stupidities like not allowing mixed re-development of old buildings for houses and offices/light industrial together and the bus issue sounds more like a way out of dodging difficult decisions than common sense. There are also valid cases for people pursuing ‘new’ lifstyles to be able to build in woodlands they are managing for example – the problem is how you stop selling on as a high value ‘des res’. My real bete noire are th gahsatly steel barns of the last 30 years, planning exempt and so invisible to planners – couldn’t we swap knocking a barn down for permission to re-develop (sensitively with Swifts, bats & barn owls !) redundant farm buildings ?

    I’ve just come back from Holland where some of the modern architecture is exciting and attractive – in contrast to England’s half hearted planners
    compromises – and I’m told this is because super-crowded Holland has a positive approach to planning – we have to make things happen & we have to do proper spatila planning as opposed to our negative approach. Time for a change that includes boosting not destroying wildlife as part of real spatial planning rather the negative creep we go for at the moment ?

    Oh, and PS Harry – its not planning, actually, its the banks not lending anyone any money thats stopped building dead.

  3. Think there is very little anyone can do Mark,it is a fallacy that we live in a democracy.

  4. Simon Barnes made some fairly strong comments in the Saturday Times this last weekend on the issue of economy vv environment. But I was amazed to find that I was most impressed by a letter from Peter Waine, Chairman of CPRE. I’m sure he won’t mind me quoting this so others can consider it:

    “What does make life worth living?
    Sir, At a time when this country faced an even greater threat than disappointing growth figures, my predecessor as CPRE Chairman, Sir Patrick Abercrombie, was appointed by the Government to advise on how to minimise the impact on the landscape of new aerodromes and arms factories.
    Welcoming his appointment, the Times leading article of May 10 1939, argued against ‘playing the traitor to the ideals of peace and letting beauty go hang because the nation must have more guns and aeroplanes. By appointing Prof. Abercrombie to be consultant in the acquiring of sites, the Royal Air Force has set a fine example. The end of all this preparation is to preserve in permanence all that makes life worth living in our country: and it would be futile to let the hurry and heedlessness of the hour destroy any portion of what we are aiming to preserve for all time’.
    As we await the publication of the NPPF, it is to be hoped that ministers, at least those outside the Treasury, have an understanding of “all that makes life worth living in our country”. That includes homes and economic prosperity, of course, but also our matchless countryside. It will be unforgivable if the final version of the NPPF sacrifices our countryside and quality of life in the desperate hope of a short-term boost to economic growth.”

    In a world where money is now god our government is bent on throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The problem here is that once the lot has gone down the drain there will be nothing left.

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