Countryside facing biggest ever threat

By Rebecca SheppardCAMPAIGNERS have vowed to fight to save the countryside in East Anglia in the face of the biggest threats it has ever faced.The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has drawn up the battle lines in an effort to safeguard green spaces for future generations.

By Rebecca Sheppard

CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to fight to save the countryside in East Anglia in the face of the biggest threats it has ever faced.

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has drawn up the battle lines in an effort to safeguard green spaces for future generations.

David Simmonds, spokesman for the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Essex, said the county was “under more threat than it has been over time” and added its focus would be on ensuring Essex did not effectively become a suburb of London.


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“We are very concerned about the outlook, but we will campaign as much as we can to try to persuade the Government that there's more to life than just economic growth,” said Mr Simmonds.

“People want quality of life more than anything else and one of the ways to ensure quality of life is by protecting the countryside.”

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He warned the planned increase in housing put forward by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott along the M11 corridor - including places such as Braintree - could create the “prospect of urban sprawl stretching from London to Peterborough”.

Mr Simmonds added: “To get those houses in Essex will mean the loss of greenbelt land and green countryside.”

He said the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Essex was also concerned about the port developments planned for Bathside Bay in Harwich and the Thames Gateway as they would impact on the countryside and affect transport levels.

“We are not happy about the extra lorries that can be involved in both of those. Bathside Bay also affects the River Stour and what are very attractive countryside areas,” added Mr Simmonds.

“Over the last year the major issue has been the Stansted Airport expansion and our national organisation has been very much opposed to the damage that is done to the local environment and to towns around the airport, such as Thaxted and Dunmow, where there are listed buildings that are adversely affected.

“More aircraft means more overlying noise and light pollution and, on a national level, we are concerned about the damage to the global environment caused by carbon monoxide emissions from the aircraft.”

Mr Simmonds was speaking ahead of Sir Max Hastings, president of CPRE, address today at the organisation's annual meeting.

Sir Max will tell delegates: “The task of our organisation is to think not merely years, but decades ahead to fight to secure the English countryside for future generations.

“It is vital that we should persuade more and more people to write letters, turn out for meetings, show politicians in the clearest terms what is and is not acceptable to local communities.

“In recent years the word NIMBY - not in my backyard - has been given a pejorative meaning by housebuilders and politicians whom local democracy does not suit.

“Yet it seems to me a fundamental and absolutely proper right that local people should have a real voice in what is done to their own community. Why should people object to horrible things being done in their backyards?”

rebecca.sheppard@eadt.co.uk

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