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Campaigners urge Government to tackle mounting pressure on land

5 March 2017

Campaigners urge Government to tackle mounting pressure on land

Experts say a national approach to land use can unite environment and economy

A new pamphlet released today by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) argues that the case for a national approach to land use is more pressing than ever [1].

CPRE’s pamphlet, Landlines: why we need a strategic approach to land, shows that England’s land is under an increasing multitude of pressures, from the drive for economic growth to the effects of climate change. The current, fragmentary approach to land use, with dozens of different organisations responsible for different issues, is failing to address the problems caused by often conflicting demands: environmental degradation, rising costs and harm to health and wellbeing [2].

The ‘Landlines’ pamphlet brings together a number of experts to argue for greater national coordination on land use, a longer term approach that can enhance both the environment and the economy. Architect Sir Terry Farrell, UK Committee on Climate Change Chair Lord Deben, and Chair of the Woodland Trust Baroness Young are among those who propose different national solutions for how we use our land.

Suggestions for better land use include a Government ‘Department of Land Use’ (Lord Deben); more involvement from the public in defining the value they get from land (Helen Meech); and using the opportunities provided by Brexit to rethink our use of agricultural land (Baroness Parminter).

Belinda Gordon, head of government and rural affairs at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said:

“Amidst the rush towards global competition and unrestrained economic growth, a national approach to how we use the land is more important than ever. We are making big decisions in isolation, and not thinking about what kind of wider pressures individual developments bring – to the land, the climate, the economy and our health and wellbeing.

“A national land use strategy would bring treasury and infrastructure officials on board with environmentalists, and replace piecemeal erosion of the countryside with exciting projects and community trust. Green transport networks, natural flood defences, sustainable housing developments, local food systems, more accessible parks: these can all be delivered if we get organisations working to the same ends through a national plan for the land.”

Sir Terry Farrell CBE, architect and urban planner, said: 

“Pollution, climate change and the ever increasing reduction in natural species, as well as human city-making on an unprecedented scale, have made the proper planning of land use a top priority for our very survival in the long term.

“The scale, complexity and seriousness of these issues mean we cannot any longer proceed as before, treating land as a disposable asset. We have now got to plan proactively for rapid and radical change.”


Notes for editors

[1] CPRE, Landlines: why we need a strategic approach to land, March 2017

[2] RSPB, State of Nature report, 2016; Wildlife Trusts & RSPB, A Nature and Wellbeing Act, 2014

[3] The pamphlet’s foreword was written by CPRE Chief Executive Shaun Spiers, with the overview written by Neil Sinden, freelance consultant and former CPRE Director of Policy and Campaigns. The full list of contributors is as follows: 

Lord Deben, Chairman of the UK Committee on Climate Change

Corinne Swain OBE, Arup Fellow and former regional examination-in-public panel chair

Andrew Wescott, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the Institution of Civil Engineers

Baroness Young, Chair of the Woodland Trust

Dame Georgina Mace, Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystems at University College London

Ian Bateman OBE, Professor of Environmental Economics at the University of Exeter

Baroness Parminter, Liberal Democrat spokesperson on the environment, food and rural affairs

Merrick Denton-Thompson OBE FLI, President of the Landscape Institute

John Everitt, Chief Executive of the National Forest Company

Adrian Phillips CBE, former Director of the Countryside Commission

Helen Meech, Director of Rewilding Britain

Sir Terry Farrell, leading British architect and urban planner

© Campaign to Protect Rural England, 5-11 Lavington Street, London, SE1 0NZ | Tel: 020 7981 2800 | Email: |

Registered charity number: 1089685, registered company number: 4302973