Campaign to Protect Rural England Standing up for your countryside

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Our achievements

Our achievements Photo: © Kevin Eaves/Shutterstock

CPRE has pioneered work to ensure the tranquil character of the English countryside is recognised, valued and better protected. Building on these successes, we continue to campaign to keep the tranquillity of ‘designated areas’, such as national parks and AONBs, and the wider ‘ordinary’ countryside:

  • Mapping of tranquillity first gained national attention when CPRE published tranquil areas maps in the mid-1990s. The Government promised in its Rural White Paper in November 2000 to include tranquillity in its monitoring of change in the quality of the countryside.
  • CPRE funded in-depth research into the factors that add to or detract from tranquillity. We published new detailed maps in 2006, which score tranquillity for up to 42 factors in 500m squares across England.
  • Our 3-year campaign helped to secure policies to protect ‘areas of tranquillity’ and tranquil Local Green Spaces in the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in 2012, leading to new tranquillity policies appearing in the plans of local authorities beyond special landscapes.
  • CPRE tranquillity maps have supported Natural England’s 159 National Character Area profiles, which recognise the value of managing these areas in ways to enhance tranquillity.
  • CPRE has supplied the national data set to enable tranquillity to be assessed in environmental plans by over 80 councils, Government departments, consultancies and researchers.
  • Our partnership work with Natural England, and its forbears, has led to tranquillity being identified, protected and enhanced as a special quality in the majority of national parks and AONBs in England.

How we mapped tranquillity

In 2005 CPRE commissioned the universities of Newcastle and Northumbria to create a new detailed approach to mapping tranquillity.

The researchers started by consulting over 2,000 people to define tranquillity and to identify the range of factors that add to or detract from it. These factors, positive and negative, were then weighted for their importance in a national survey. National datasets were selected that matched the factors. Using this data the researchers then identified and modelled the presence – or absence - of every factor in each square in a grid of 500m by 500m squares across the whole surface of England using a Geographical Information System (GIS). This included assessing the topography (lie of the land), noise modelling and analysing the visibility of features from multiple perspectives and distance.

The result was to create a detailed map made up of many layers of information. If you could peel away the layers, you would see underlying maps that show the positive or negative impact on tranquillity of seeing and hearing:
- Natural or semi-natural landscape, including woodland
- Rivers, streams, lakes and the sea
- Birds and other wildlife
- Wide open or remote places
- Traffic - cars, motorbikes, trains and aircraft – and roads and railways
- Light pollution and dark skies
- Towns, cities and villages
- Large numbers of people
- Pylons, power lines and wind turbines.

The final tranquillity map is a composite of these layers, showing for each grid square how likely it is a person in that locality will feel tranquil. The map is a striking representation, from red to green, of areas with low to high tranquillity for the whole country. It shows the incremental effects of up to 42 different factors. Less tranquil areas have multiple negative factors such as roads, traffic noise, railways, aviation, urban development, power lines, sky glow and wind turbines. More tranquil areas lack these visually intrusive or noisy factors and have high levels of positives such as natural land cover, openness, woodland and dark skies.

CPRE believes the maps are the best indicator we have to show areas of tranquillity worthy of protection nationally or areas where tranquillity could be improved. Scores can be re-scaled locally too, using the original data set, to show more clearly areas in a county or district that are relatively tranquil, valuable in that area and in need of protection.

The full technical report from the university research team describing how the tranquillity map was created is available in the Resources section.

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