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Reaction to ‘The countryside at a crossroads’

Reaction to ‘The countryside at a crossroads’

CPRE welcome a new report looking at the future of our natural environment and needs of rural communities

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) welcomes a report launched today (22 March) by the House of Lords Select Committee, which makes a series of recommendations about the needs of rural communities and the role of Government Departments and agencies.

CPRE approve of many of the recommendations within the report, in particular those highlighting the need for adequate funding to deliver the Government's 25 Year Environment Plan and to improve Natural England’s role in the planning system and the protection of our landscapes.

Emma Marrington, Senior Rural Policy Campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England said:

‘We welcome the Committee’s report and agree that more must be done to ensure that the needs of rural communities are championed. Cuts to Natural England’s budget have reduced its effectiveness and we share the concern that it is not playing the full role it should in the planning system and in protecting our precious landscapes. It is vital that Natural England is a strong voice to promote access to the countryside and to protect and enhance our precious landscapes.

‘While there is definitely a need to raise the profile of rural issues, we do not think it would be helpful for ‘rural affairs’ to become part of the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Instead the Government should ensure that Defra can be a stronger champion for the countryside.’

The impact of reduced protection for our protected landscapes echoes research from CPRE which found unprecedented levels of housing development in our AONBs, with at least a five-fold increase in the amount of land approved for development since 2012.

The report also touches on the threat to rural affordable housing. CPRE wants to see the Government doing more to meet housing needs in rural communities and we are deeply concerned about policies in the revised draft NPPF relating to rural exception sites which would further reduce the supply of rural affordable housing.

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