Calls to end ‘countryside clutter’

COUNTRYSIDE campaigners in Essex have welcomed a call for a major reduction of man-made “clutter” such as overhead wires and pylons blotting the landscape.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England said bad management and insufficient planning controls had left some rural areas looking “more like a scrapyard than the majestic green countryside”.

According to the group there are now more than 52,500 phone masts in the UK and about 3.5 million telephone poles supporting 9.75 million miles of overhead wires.

It also wants a reduction in the number of unnecessary road signs which have sprung up in recent years.

And today the Dedham Vale Society, which exists to protect the peace and tranquillity of Constable Country has given its backing to the campaign.

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Robert Erith, the society’s president, told the EADT: “I think the countryside looks so much better without all the wires and pylons and gives more satisfaction to visitors who come here – they don’t want to be staring at pylons.

“The fewer wires the better – I have, over many years, taken down and ‘under-grounded’ all the wires on my farm.

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“Nobody says ‘you don’t have any wires’, they look and say how beautiful it is.”

Mr Erith said there was much more financial support available now for farmers wanting to transform their land to make it wire-free.

“We are very fortunate to live in area as attractive as the Dedham Vale, which of course is available to everybody and it is important for us to keep it that way.”

He said his own personal view was that the amount of litter being left in the countryside was also a big problem which needed addressing.

The CPRE’s campaign has called for companies and the Government to take action to tidy up the countryside with phone masts decommissioned when they become redundant.

It also believes much of the 27,000 miles of cables in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding National Beauty could be put underground.

Paul Miner, senior planning campaigner at CPRE, said some of the structures in the countryside were necessary, but many were not needed and could be removed.

“When we ask people what they feel most disrupts the tranquillity and beauty of our landscapes, it’s the ugly pylons, masts and advertising boards they point to.

“Cleaning up this mess only takes a little effort from the companies and councils responsible, and CPRE is ready and willing to help.”

He said the Government should encourage responsible companies to work with local communities to tackle the issues affecting the countryside.

“If they all agree to step up to the challenge, we can start to improve and restore this green and pleasant land, taking a big step towards the ‘Big Society’ at the same time,” he said.

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