Campaign to Protect Rural England Standing up for your countryside

Skip to navigation

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and Friends of the Earth (FoE) have condemned moves by fracking company Ineos to remove local decision-making powers from councils in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.

Ineos, who applied earlier this year to drill exploratory wells near Eckington in Derbyshire and Harthill in Rotherham, have now asked the government to intervene on the grounds that the local councils have taken too long to decide.

“These are complex cases where both councils must fully evaluate the likely impacts. To do this takes both time and care and the councils have had to ask Ineos to provide further environmental information,” said Daniel Carey-Dawes, senior infrastructure campaigner at CPRE, “For Ineos to now bypass that process is both unfair and unreasonable. This disregard for local democracy is unacceptable”.

Both drilling applications and the new appeals have ignited fury in local communities and with local politicians such as Sir Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley and Derbyshire County Council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis. For the past year, CPRE and Friends of the Earth’s regional staff have been supporting affected communities with planning and advocacy advice.

“Both CPRE and Friends of the Earth are fully committed to helping local communities fight fracking,” said Simon Bowens, regional campaigner for Friends of the Earth, “We’ll be working closely to ensure strong arguments are put to the forthcoming planning inquiries so that Ineos’ bully-boy tactics don’t succeed”.

For our cities and rural areas to move forward, we need to improve our country’s infrastructure. If we are to secure buy-in from the public and leave a positive legacy for our landscapes, we need to do this with care and precision, engaging and consulting with local communities along the way. With the UK’s National Infrastructure Pipeline now at a record £500bn, there has never been a more crucial time to make sure we get these issues right.

Our lecture, held on Tuesday 6th December, sparked discussion and debate on infrastructure in the countryside with a wide range of leading experts.

Our main speaker was Phil Graham, Chief Executive of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), delved into the highlights of the Commission’s first year in operation before setting out how it is drawing up the first ever National Infrastructure Assessment, a vision of the country’s infrastructure needs in 2050 and the best way to get us there.

Our panel of respondents then provided us with their reflections on Phil’s speech. The panellists - Deborah Mattinson (Founder Partner of Britain Thinks), Martin Stockley (deputy chair of the HS2 Independent Design Panel) and Ralph Smyth (CPRE) - each gave their own view on the subject, outlining their views on how infrastructure should be approached in the UK. The discussion was chaired by CPRE’s chair Su Sayer.

What they had to say

You can listen to the full discussion here:

A summary of lead speaker, Phil Graham, can be found here:

Phil Graham

Full transcripts from the respondents can be read here:

Deborah Mattinson

Martin Stockley

Ralph Smyth

About the speakers

Phil Graham, Chief Executive, National Infrastructure Commission

Phil joined the National Infrastructure Commission from the Department for Transport, where he worked on many of the UK's most important infrastructure projects. He led the development of the Government's high speed rail strategy from its inception and took it through one of the country's largest ever consultation and analysis processes.

Deborah Mattinson, Founder Partner, Britain Thinks

Deborah has more than twenty five years’ experience of providing clients with research based strategic advice. In that time she has worked with global businesses, major charities, international governments and senior politicians. She is particularly well known for developing innovative ways to bring decision makers closer to their stakeholders.

Martin Stockley, deputy chair, HS2 Independent Design Panel

Martin is a leading authority on the application of engineering in the design of infrastructure and the built environment. As a practising engineer he has worked on the design of major civil engineering, on buildings (both new and historic) and on streets, parks and public spaces. He has advised the UK government on the design of schools and is an advisor to English Heritage. He has been a member of the Crossrail design panel in London, PlacesMatter! in the West Midlands and the regeneration panel in Bath.

Ralph Smyth, Head of Infrastructure & Legal, Campaign to Protect Rural England

Ralph leads on CPRE's work on infrastructure and legal issues, focusing on transport. Ralph is a member of the Highways England’s Design Panel and is a frequent commentator in the media on transport issues. He has represented CPRE in examinations, a hybrid bill and judicial reviews of nationally significant infrastructure projects. Ralph led the environmental sector’s work to influence the road elements of the Infrastructure Act 2015, securing major amendments on environmental regulation and sustainable travel.

Chaired by Su Sayer, CBE, Chair, Campaign to Protect Rural England

Su is the co-founder and was previously chief executive of United Response - a major national charity that supports people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and physical disabilities. It is now a charity with a £75m turnover and a workforce of over 3500 people. Su has been the chair for Campaign to Protect Rural England since 2014.

The Government has today revealed its long awaited decision to proceed with phase 2b of HS2, which would connect Manchester and Leeds with the Midlands. The consultation document says there is currently no funding for junctions to link HS2 better with the existing rail network.

Ralph Smyth, Head of Infrastructure and Legal at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, comments:

'HS2 will simply fail to live up to its promises if it is not integrated with wider upgrades to the rail network. Communities in the North and Midlands have been crying out for better rail links in rural areas – not just the cities HS2 is proposed to connect. Parkway stations plonked in the Green Belt, like that proposed a mile away from Manchester Airport, would create gridlock rather than faster journeys.

'With the Government expecting to miss targets to cut carbon emissions from transport by 50% when the first phase of HS2 is due to open [1], much more work is needed to ensure phase two entices people out of cars and planes. Heathrow’s plans to subsidise new domestic air routes as part of plans for a third runway would seriously damage the financial and environmental case for these proposals.

'Although the route chosen for phase two would be less harmful than phase one, there needs to be at least as much ambition to make it fit in with the north’s countryside as the south’s, if landscape and tranquillity are to be safeguarded. Some high viaducts may be inevitable in hillier areas but let’s make sure they can be exemplary designs we can cherish, not soulless, standardised concrete.'


[1] The Environmental Audit Committee’s recent report Sustainability in the Department for Transport notes in its Recommendation 7 that ‘The Committee on Climate Change advice on the lowest-cost pathway to the UK’s 2050 emissions reduction target included an interim 2025 decarbonisation objective, which the transport sector is projected to miss by almost 50%. Transport is now the largest emitting sector; emissions have increased for the past two years running. We recommend the Department set out in the Government’s forthcoming carbon reduction plan how it intends to deal with this shortfall in decarbonisation. (Paragraph 32)’


The Government consulted on "the proposed governance, structure and operation of the National Infrastructure Commission". In this response, CPRE supports the creation of the Commission but calls for better processes for public engagement on infrastructure and for the Commission to be given an explicit environmental scope.

HS2 has today launched its design vision, a framework document to guide the work of its engineering, architectural and design teams in developing the new high-speed rail system.

“The design framework and panel, first committed to by the Secretary of State for Transport when he gave CPRE’s annual lecture in 2012, has been a long time in coming,” commented Ralph Smyth, CPRE transport campaign manager. “We are delighted to see that the progress going on behind the scenes has finally been made public.

“If HS2 is to be ‘admired around the world’, as its Chief Executive hopes, fitting it carefully into the English countryside will be crucial. Controversy over Network Rail’s investment programme, where the design focus on urban areas has led to beautiful city stations but ugly bridges and wires in the rural areas between them, shows the risks of getting it wrong.

“Our landscapes are the product of thousands of years of interaction between humans and nature. Without careful consideration of local landscape character and long-term funding to manage change, there is a real risk HS2 will forever feel like something that has been plonked in at an inopportune moment. However great the vision is and however notable the panel members are, if good design is not prioritised, it will be first in line to be cut as pressure mounts on costs. CPRE will therefore continue to campaign on the Hybrid Bill before Parliament to be amended so that planning decisions are required to give significant weight to the panel’s advice.”


Back to top

Autumn web background 2018

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. If that's okay, just continue browsing - or see our cookies policy for ways to opt out.
Cookies Policy I agree