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Marsh Awards 2011 – winners

Bob Barfoot, individual category winner Bob Barfoot, individual category winner Photo: © CPRE

The Marsh Awards for the benefit of rural England are given by the Marsh Christian Trust and are awarded to celebrate outstanding volunteering activity within CPRE.

These are awarded to individuals and CPRE groups.

Individual winner
Bob Barfoot, North Devon district group, Two Moors Campaign (wind farm)

‘DON’T panic!’ is the message from the winner of this year’s Marsh Award, Bob Barfoot, who has spent much of the past five years either preparing for, or sitting in, public inquiries into wind farms.

An electrical engineer and parish councillor from Warwickshire, Bob retired to Devon for a quiet life, but he became the chair of the North Devon district group of CPRE and was thrust straight into his first, unsuccessful, public inquiry. This was for a wind farm at Fullabrook, which is now being built less than 10 km to the west of Exmoor National Park. While this inquiry was taking place, two applications were submitted for turbines to the south  of Exmoor, and two more quickly followed.

To me, this would seem like a good reason to panic, but Bob explained, ‘You may be given 21 days to respond to a huge planning application but in reality the process will take months, if not years. Send in a brief objection stating that you will be submitting more evidence, and then take time to prepare it properly.’

Bob’s second tip is to form a campaign group. Not to wave banners, but to gather evidence and raise funds. Bob helped form the Two Moors Campaign, with around 300 members. Together they have raised about £60,000.

Proper legal representation is a must; Bob brought in a QC to lead on the legal work and used many expert witnesses. These should be used from the start of the public inquiry process. A council is unlikely to employ a professional landscape architect and will rely on what they are told by developers unless you can give them an alternative.

At the inquiry a key part of their evidence was a set of photo montages showing the probable impact of 24 100m high wind turbines in one of the most impressive views in the country – on a clear day it is possible to see Dartmoor. These were costly but Bob is sure they were worth it. ‘The inspector spent hours looking at them before agreeing the impact on the landscape would be unacceptable.’

The refusal of these two wind farms has become a test case for the National Park movement, and Bob has helped campaigners across the country. Bob won the 2011 Marsh Award for the Benefit of Rural England because of his hard work and professionalism. He has put across CPRE’s message in Devon and beyond that wind energy should not cost us the beauty of our most valued landscapes.

Highly commended individual winners
John Williams and David Compton-Kemp for Rutland Round footpaths

John from CPRE Rutland was recognized for his work in creating and promoting the Rutland Round, a network of footpaths which now forms a major part of the Rutland Walking Festival. David, a litter campaigner from Norfolk, was recognized for his lobbying of local authorities, the Highways Agency and McDonald’s, and his own litter-picking on Norfolk’s

Group winner
CPRE Norfolk for Green Building Open Days

This year’s winner of the group Marsh Award is a team from CPRE Norfolk who run open days demonstrating the use of green technology.

During four days every September, hundreds of people in Norfolk take part in guided tours of homes using renewable energy, zero-carbon social housing schemes and low-impact dwellings. These Green Buildings Open Days aim to inspire and educate others and have given CPRE a very positive image in the county, bringing in new members, volunteers and sponsorship. Most significantly 83% of visitors are inspired to make changes to their own homes after attending the event.

The event is only possible because of the time put in by the team of volunteers; Roger Askham oversees the event as a whole, including the selection of buildings and creating the promotional brochure. The homeowners volunteer their own time to show people round, all day for four days, while volunteer stewards manage parking, collect donations and talk about CPRE.

Highly commended group winner
CPRE Avonside for Stop Bristol Airport Expansion

A highly commended group prize was awarded to the Stop Bristol Airport Expansion group, co-ordinated by CPRE Avonside which brought together various local groups objecting to a growth in passenger numbers from six million passengers to ten million by 2019. They used imaginative ways to raise awareness and enable people to have their say. Despite all their work, the proposals have so far been given the go-ahead, but they are seeking a judicial review so the campaign goes on.

Don't panic!

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