Annual Lecture 2008

Edited extracts from David Cameron’s speech to CPRE on 12 May 2008

I was brought up in the countryside, and, representing a largely rural constituency, I live much of my life there today. But you don’t have to live in the countryside to value it.

“The beauty of our landscape; the particular cultures and traditions that rural life sustains these are national treasures, to be cherished and protected for everyone’s benefit. It’s not enough for politicians just to say that – we need leaders who really understand it and feel it in their bones. I do.

“My constituency – West Oxfordshire, the gateway to the Cotswolds – is a permanent reminder of the connections between agriculture and landscape, the past and the present, economic activity and often breathtaking beauty.

“The countryside looks like it does because of centuries of grazing. The exquisite high streets of villages like Burford, the rich Town halls, Corn exchanges and Butter crosses of Witney and Chipping Norton are there because of the wealth generated from Cotswold wool.

“And the whole area – which is not some vast museum, but has a buzzing 21st century economy – retains its beauty because the planners, who I applaud, decided to be tough, balance conservation with economic growth and insist on building in local stone.   And this combination of farming, history and landscape is considerably enriched by local traditions and culture that links people with their place and the past.

“Really believing that all of this is important not just for conservation, not just for tourism, but for our own sense of identity and well being that’s why I’m such a supporter of the CPRE and the work you do.

“From your innovative partnership with [the National Housing Federation] on affordable housing in rural areas to your excellent Stop the Drop anti-litter campaign. The CPRE does a vital job and I applaud you for it.

“I know there are many serious problems facing rural communities today, and I know what effective advocates you are when it comes to solving those problems. But today, I don’t just want to talk about the countryside and rural life. Because I believe there’s something bigger that connects the problems faced by rural communities with the problems we face in our towns and cities.

“It’s not about this policy or that policy. It’s about an attitude – a philosophy of government if you like.

SOCIAL VALUE

“The attitude that the only thing that matters when it comes to policy and administration is economic value – that social value doesn’t matter – has done great damage.

“The real world effect has been Post Office closures, library closures, police station closures, the closure of small shops, small schools and now GP surgeries under threat.

“These are the costs of social failure, the failure to recognise social value as well as economic value the failure to recognise that there is such a thing as society, it’s just not the same thing as the state.

THE FOUR WAYS SOCIAL VALUE HAS BEEN UNDERMINED

“There are four ways in particular that social value has been undermined in recent years.

“First, through top-down policy making and a big-is-beautiful approach. Second, through the unthinking adoption of the latest fad or fashion. Third, through endless new regulations that are not needed. And fourth – conversely – through the failure to get regulation right when it is needed.

“Let me take each of these in turn.

TOP-DOWN REORGANISATION: BIG-IS-BEAUTIFUL

“Over the past decade our public services have suffered an almost permanent assault through wave after wave of top-down reorganisations. This kind of bureaucratic restructuring imposed from above has been most notable in the NHS – but you can see it in education, in policing, in many other areas.

“And what these top-down reorganisations tend to have in common is a big-is-beautiful approach – closing down small local services and reorganising them into larger, more distant units.

“That’s what has happened with Post Offices, with maternity services, with A&E – and now it’s the small, local GP surgeries that are next As a Conservative, the pursuit of taxpayer value is part of my political DNA. But value is not the same as cost. These top-down, big-is-beautiful reorganisations may reduce cost in the short term. But they increase costs in the long term.

“It may be cheaper, for instance, to close down the small rural Post Offices but in doing so you close down the informal networks that can give elderly and often isolated people vital interaction and connections that can help avoid the need for more hospital calls or adult social services. The supposed benefits of these top-down reorganisations often seem to accrue to the bureaucracy rather than the user. They do not deliver taxpayer value, because they destroy social value.

FADS AND FASHIONS

“Of course a large part of the problem I’m describing is the result of ‘faddism’ – the second way in which social value has been undermined in recent years. By ‘faddism’ I mean the tendency to jump on fashionable bandwagons, usually without thinking through the consequences.

“Amidst all the zigzags on community hospitals, for instance, did policy-makers stop to think about how hospital closures would affect rural communities?  Did they show any understanding of the incredible sense of ownership that local people feel for their local NHS?

“Another fad that made absolutely no sense was John Prescott’s regionalisation agenda. It proved spectacularly unpopular. His grand scheme to impose regional government across England fell at the first hurdle when a referendum in the North East threw out the idea.

OVER-REGULATION

“The third way in which social value has been undermined is through over-regulation.

“In recent years, small businesses in particular have suffered a massive increase in rules and regulations. The people who draw up these regulations often impose impossibly high standards that cost a fortune to meet. Instead of taking a pragmatic approach, bureaucrats have an attitude of ‘unless it’s perfect, you can’t do it’.

“This is the mentality that closed many of Britain’s abattoirs. Health and safety standards became so onerous that only a few, large-scale operators could meet them. Of course that meant a big rise in the number of live animals being transported. Did anyone think about the effects: higher carbon emissions; wear and tear on roads; the negative impact on animal welfare? Not to mention the loss of local jobs.

FAILING TO GET REGULATION RIGHT

“But amidst all this over-regulation, there has been a failure to use regulation wisely to protect the things that need protecting – that enhance social value. Whether this failure is due to neglect, or a lack of courage in confronting powerful vested interests – the result is the same.

“Take food and farming. Many British consumers want to back British farmers by buying their produce, but often find it difficult because of inadequate labelling. Food can be imported to Britain, processed here, and subsequently labelled in a way that suggests it is genuinely British. It is the proper job of government to ensure that labelling is accurate and clear.

“But government is not only failing to impose sensible new regulations that would protect the countryside. They are even getting rid of existing ones.

“The Planning Bill currently going through Parliament will give planning powers to remote regional authorities instead of giving planning powers back to local people. This will remove the input of local communities from planning applications and make it easier for insensitive and inappropriate development to occur. The Bill will also further undermine local shops.  That’s why we’re fighting the removal of the ‘needs test’ that John Gummer put into planning law specifically to protect the small shops on the high street from being destroyed by out-of-town shopping.

“Another example of inadequate regulation is the relationship between the big supermarkets and farmers. It’s not exactly a relationship of equals. The supermarkets have been in the habit of using their market power to squeeze the margins of those they buy from. Delivering low prices through efficiencies is good for customers and a good thing in general – particularly at a time when the cost of living is going up. But doing so through abuse of market power or, for example through hitting suppliers with in-year retrospective discounts is not.

“There is evidence that the supermarkets are addressing some of these concerns, but there is no room for complacency. Whether threats to the countryside and local communities come from big government or big business, we Conservatives will be on the right side.

THE PRACTICAL STEPS WE WILL TAKE

“Our philosophical tradition places huge emphasis on civil society, on the families and communities out of which a society is built. So our philosophy is one that understands social value and seeks to enhance it. But what will that mean in practice? Let me give you some examples of the specific steps we will take.

“Our school reforms will make it easy to set up more small, independently run schools that are sensitive to community needs and not the direction of central or local government.

“We will make it easier and more attractive to set up co-ops: voluntary collective action to serve local needs.

“And in perhaps less obvious areas, too, we will look for ways to give power to the local, the individual, the community. Power is – literally – a case in point.

“In the twenty-first century, we shouldn’t have to depend solely on the big, lumbering national grid that wastes so much energy in generation and transmission. So our plans for feed-in tariffs will encourage a shift towards more decentralised energy so farmers and others can become producers as well as consumers of power.

“There’s something else we’re looking at too: the position of small shops. The personal and specialised offer from independent retailers, combined with their tendency to be more involved in community activities, to be plugged into local social networks or to support local suppliers, means that they should be treated differently. They should be considered to compete with larger chains not just on economic terms, such as price or the range of goods or services available, but also on their social value.

“If small independent shops have a greater social value than chains or larger shops, then it makes sense for them to benefit not only from retention and strengthening of the ‘needs test’ in planning law but also from an advantageous tax and regulatory regime which tips the balance back in their favour against the larger retailers.

“This new approach is part of a bigger picture. The next Conservative government will attempt to develop a measure or series of measures of social value that will inform our policy-making when in power. When making decisions, ministers will take account not just of economic efficiency but also social efficiency.

“Some people may question if this is possible. I say to them that it has been possible to develop new measures of the impact of public policy within the environmental sphere, which were previously not included in public policy making, and I see no reason why it should not be the case within the social sphere. Taken together with our renewed emphasis on localism – more powers for local government and greater rights for local communities to decide for themselves on issues that affect them, the countryside will be immeasurably strengthened.”

The full text of David Cameron’s speech is available on the Conservative Party website

Audio recordings from the Annual Lecture are available below:

> Introductory speech by Shaun Spiers, Chief Executive, CPRE (mp3, 3.7mb)
> Keynote speech by David Cameron (mp3, 10.7mb)
> Questions and answers with David Cameron (mp3, 6.3mb)

Following his speech, a panel discussion was held to discuss the ideas David Cameron presented. Panel members included Elinor Goodman, from the Commission for Rural Communities; Michael Coupe, from CPRE’s Policy Committee; Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP, chair of the Conservative Party Policy Review; and Shaun Spiers, CPRE’s Chief Executive.

> Elinor Goodman’s comments (mp3, 2.5mb)
> Michael Coupe’s comments (mp3, 3.8mb)
> Response by Oliver Letwin (mp3, 3.7mb)
> Questions and answers with the panel (mp3, 14mb)

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30 responses

  1. Dr Eric H Jones

    I am so glad that David Cameron has spoken out about the present Government’s grotesque undermining of the countryside, its beauty and its values. The economic monomania of Labour and Gordon Brown, in particular, has already done huge damage to one of our country’s greatest assets, its rural landscape and way of life. Unlike David Cameron, I was not brought up in the countryside, but it was not far away and I enjoyed it from my earliest years. A lethal cocktail of ideology, blinkered vision and characteristic monumental incompetence by Labour has left our countryside beleaguered, threatened and seriously undermined. Now they have half-baked schemes for so-called “eco-towns”, as well as massive house- building plans to accommodate the results of uncontrolled immigration. It is enough to make anyone who cares about our country and our countryside despair. David Cameron offers a desperately needed ray of hope.

    14 May, 2008 at 9:18 am

  2. D Fender

    Has the whole political system turned on its head? or are the primary political parties having a waltz with their identities just to confuse the lowly voter?

    I thought the conservatives were supposed to head for maximum turnover with the least regard for the environment while labour points fingers and complains about their single minded attitude.

    I now find myself agreeing with the leader of a party which has always represented the views and aspirations of the upper classes.

    The publics movement towards buying local and organic is a fair representation of the general attitude to the supermarketization of the countries resources.

    Most everyday folk I speak to are baffled at the way that vegetables are driven half way round the country from a local field back to their local chain store.

    Economics seems to disregard common sense at every stage.

    With rising fuel prices, we will be forced to find more sustainable local solutions for both food and employment.

    The governments new “eco- town” model just looks like some of the most dangerous housing estates in marseille where knifings, civil unrest racial violence are the norm.

    how can anyone still believe that cramming people “the workforce” into labrat storeage and feeding them televised fantasy is going to assist in finding workable solutions to the problems we now face?

    or is the plan to bring out a new range of eco anti depressants to surpress the externalisation of the poor inhabitants loss of dignity.

    Why do these designers of the future think they have the right to impose their ridiculous concepts on the populus.

    Does unanymus political power make you less intellegent? and other such questions.

    20 May, 2008 at 8:51 am

  3. Charles Stuart

    One further item to add to Davids Cameron’s list of the effects of only recognising economic value- the devastation caused by (actually uneconomic!) wind turbines in the wrong locations.
    The latest onslaught-thanks to the Scottish government- being planned is in the spectacular wilderness area of the Findhorn River catchment area and the Dava moor,in the county of Moray, Scotland.

    Can the CPRE do the same thing in Scotland? Expose the lack of social thinking there too!

    20 May, 2008 at 7:07 pm

  4. I believe David Cameron does appreciate the true value of our land
    and the family,hence this message

    The countryside has always played a large part in my life, and as a child I was taught to respect and to enjoy it. I must admit I took it for granted and never thought it would one day be under threat and that so many organisations would have to fight such a long and difficult battle to protect it.
    My husband’s love for the countryside and his knowledge of what it had to offer was incredible. Not only did he admire the beauty of the moors, rivers, woods and mountains but appreciated more than anyone I have met the physical and spiritual refreshment it provided “Whether walking climbing or skiing he was happy in the mountains. He enjoyed driving, flying, walking, but his main passion was for mountains throughout the world and that has stayed with me
    He always said that although he did not own it, he felt the countryside was the greatest gift anyone could give to their children. His philosophy was to respect it, enjoy it and preserve it for future generations.
    We travelled extensively,camping and trekking everywhere from Austria and Switzerland to North America and North Africa and overland to Afghanistan in a VW camper van. Closer to home, our particular favourites Teesdale and the Lake District. We often led walking parties of pupils from School and instructed in outdoor pursuits for The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Walking on the moors above Barningham in Teesdale,the Lakeland Fells the Cuillins on Skye, the High Sierras in California the John Muir wilderness trail all served to enrich our lives.
    Our experiences the world over strengthened our belief that man was damaging the landscape through inappropriate development.
    In 1997 we had the chance to make a stand for our beliefs,
    National Wind Power planned to build a windfarm on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.and we became co-founders of the campaign to protect the landscape from a damaging development The three-year battle was eventually won in the High Court in October 1999
    Groups and organisations such as CPRE are crucial to balance the non political arguments when the countryside is under threat from damaging developments.
    In 2001 I climbed Kinabalu and in 2004 Mount Kilimanjaro after regular training walking on the moors in Teesdale This area we fought to protect for its rare qualities so that future generations could enjoy it was worth fighting for.
    My vision for 2026 is simply to protect our non renewable non political and priceless landscapes from any damaging development.
    “We must deal with global environmental problems but we must also protect the spiritual wellsprings of our freedom embodied by wild places” from A Call for the Wild by the National Trust

    .

    20 May, 2008 at 11:26 pm

  5. Tony Winnett

    I am concerened about the inappropriate developments in the North East. The prolifereation of applications for wind turbines too close to aitports and established dwellings.
    Planning applications for caravan leisure parks that are not needed, they are commercial developments in situations where the land could be put to better use for wildlide areas creating biodiversity and sanctuary for birds and animals in additiuon to providing a carbon free lung to be enjoyed by both towns folk and the local rural inhabitants.

    22 May, 2008 at 4:34 pm

  6. Lorraine

    Its refreshing to hear David Camerons words in relation to the countryside being something to behold and protect.
    However, the current governments performance targets in relation to planning and renewables, are underpinned by enticing financial subsidies which means that all too often the countryside is becoming blighted by inappropriately located structures and in particular wind turbines.
    We all support the concept of renewable energy but they must be appropriately planned and such planning should not be founded on the whim of an individual landowner seeking to make a profit.

    22 May, 2008 at 7:19 pm

  7. What a pleasant surprise to hear a politician appreciating our landscape, the destruction of our social values, the folly of unworkable top-down administration and over regulation.

    Over a decade of the current Government has taken away any appreciation of the rural landscape with it’s desecration of large parts of Scotland, Wales and now England with gigantic wind turbines that are better suited onshore in indusrial areas or better still offshore.

    These schemes are driven by gready developers seeking to make quick profits using the Renewable Obligation Certificates that makes wind powered energy the most heavily subsidised commodity in history.

    Extracts from the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts : Department of Trade and Industry : Renewable Energy : Sixth Report of 2005-06 stated in it’s Conclusions and Recommendations:-

    3. The Renewables Obligation is currently at least four times more expensive than the other means of reducing carbon dioxide…
    4. The 2010 target requires the costs of the Renewables Obligation to be acceptable to the consumers.
    11. The Renewables Obligation has the effect of transferring substantial sums from consumers to the renewables industry – over £400 million in 2004-05, rising to £1 billion by 2010 – amounting to some £5 billion over the whole period.
    But this subsidy to renewables is not authorised under the annual supply procedure and so, unlike public expenditure, is not subject to regular Parliamentary scrutiny.

    We welcome Mr. Cameron’s proposals to replace Renewable Obligation scheme of subsidy.

    22 May, 2008 at 7:24 pm

  8. It would have been good to hear a little more about environmental value which is so under threat.

    We need to know that our countryside landscape can be protected for its own sake and that environmental value is given the same weight in the equation, as well as the social and economic – in short we need a balanced set of scales to assess true cost and value. However, land is finite, once lost it is usually gone forever, and there should be a real move to be economic with its use and safeguard it when necessary through the planning system.

    A comment on the misguided and non-debated and unchallenged Barker demand-lead housing policy, and all that flows from it, and a sensible discussion on sustainable housing numbers that will not blight a future Britain by producing spreading conurbations of poorly designed housing, or homes built on flood plains, but spread country-wide not just in the crowded, infrastructure-starved, south east.

    We need to know how to provide more “affordable” (the word being interpreted as in the official definition) homes in perpetuity through the main stream planning system and not on exception sites. The small number pepper-potted through large market housing estates are not going to solve the homes for rent crises. Using exception sites often steals local amenity land from villages.

    We need to protect small market town centres from big supermarkets, not only through the ‘needs test’, but by re-examining the damaging ‘sequential test’ physically placing them centrally at the heart of traditional small market towns, impacting on their fabric and creating traffic congestion. (Imagine Burford car park on the river with a proposal for a Tesco supermarket sited on it and you have the picture of what is proposed in the historic market town of Hadleigh, Suffolk.) There is a real need for common sense when interpreting this policy, especially when there is a perfectly good, much less damaging, alternative site within walking distance of the town centre. If characterful, well-functioning, viable market towns work well as they are servicing their town and local hinterland community, should there not be a presumption against large supermarkets?

    In fact the ‘competition’ issues also need challenging. If a large supermarket manages to secrete itself in to a small market town, because of a flawed policy, it might follow, through this policy that others could challenge to also be there?

    There is a real need to look afresh at planning for urban areas and planning for rural areas. They need different treatment and the urban policy is often very damaging for a rural area. I would like to suggest that we go back to town and country planning. They really do need separate treatment and policies in many areas of planning guidance.

    23 May, 2008 at 8:24 am

  9. Howard Thomas

    If the summary is a fair one, then it was an extremely disappointing address. The various points made about social issues were simply dog-whistle politics to gain favour with the audience (pushing an open door in my experience). As usual from this clever publicist and his aide, Dr Letwin, nothing worth a candle about preventing unnecessary development in the countryside, which is the only issue with which we CPRE people should be concerned.

    23 May, 2008 at 3:12 pm

  10. If only David Camaron could have made the final jump to the third leg of the sustainability stool – Environment. Absolutely right to set up social value to rank alongside economic value, but what about environmental value. All three are required for a truly balanced cost-benefit appraisal of policy or project.

    In reality it seems to me (from the edited version) that all David Camaron had to say about our countryside was some puff about where he was brought up and his constituancy and a bit about how it is farmed/managed and protected by the planning system. There was a spark of hope in his comment about landscape and personal identity and that he is prepared to “come out” as CPRE supporter is a strength. I can see no genuine commitment (ie stated future actions) to environmental imperitives or protecting the landscape/countryside in this speach. As the keynote speaker to this particular audience how disappointing is that?

    Chris

    23 May, 2008 at 5:29 pm

  11. May I expand on the comment made by Howard re ‘preventing unnecessary development in the countryside, which is the only issue with which we CPRE people should be concerned’

    If as it surely does ‘CPRE exists to promote the tranquillity and diversity of rural England by encouraging the sustainable use of land and other natural resources in town and country’ then town and country issues have an interdepedency

    Actually Darlington Council raised the same issue some years ago Durham Branch and Darlington District Group responded in a similar vein. The local council are now completely understanding of the situation

    We respond to the needs of local people (according to CPRE remit)in town or country when people see their quality of life threatened by any inappropriate development. One issue is encouraging the use of brownfield land in the town which does take pressure off development in the countryside

    I heard David Cameron’s speech and this is my personal non CPRE opinion
    No one can be all things to all men. His innovative webcameron blog did allow people to air their concerns and some comments in his speech did appear to show he had listened and heard

    I hope he puts quality of life as a priority and steers away from ‘green taxes’ Not only do we need affordable homes but we need to ensure people can afford to heat them People in the country and those who work unsociable hours will never be served by local transport so they need their own cars
    Post office closures are taking place in town and country,five in Darlington.

    Countryside,green spaces everywhere, designated or nor, in town or country are non renewable and their protection, for what they have to offer, should be something on which all politicians agree

    25 May, 2008 at 10:51 am

  12. Dr. Peter Foreman, FIEE

    I was delighted to hear David Cameron say that they would introduce feed-in tariffs. I have not received ROCs from the present method, despite supplying over 2MW from my Photo-Voltaic Panels. Typical New Labour ideas, ineffective and complicated!! The Germans have achieved so much more with the new proposal.

    27 May, 2008 at 1:55 pm

  13. Dr Phillip Bratby

    David cameron said “Of course a large part of the problem I’m describing is the result of ‘faddism’. By ‘faddism’ I mean the tendency to jump on fashionable bandwagons, usually without thinking through the consequences.”

    The biggest fad of all is ‘man-made global warming’ and attempting to ‘fight climate change’. There is no evidence for ‘man-made global warming’; the IPCC has not shown any correlation between CO2 emissions and global warming. The climate is too big for that and has always changed naturally – hence ice-ages and inter-glacials. Yes we ought to reduce CO2 emissions if possible, but not at any cost. The environmentalist fad for ‘man-made global warming’ jumped on by politicians with the prospect of frightening people into accepting green taxes has led to many of our current problems with, for example, the growing of bio-fuels and wind power stations planned all over the countryside. David cameron should jump off the ‘man-made global warming’ fad and get back to the real world.

    He also said “In the twenty-first century, we shouldn’t have to depend solely on the big, lumbering national grid that wastes so much energy in generation and transmission.” The national grid has served us well for over 60years. It was developed to overcome the unreliability and other problems of locally produced electricity and is essential for our 21st century life-styles. It is far from being wasteful.

    I hope David Cameron is prepared to listen to experts who think about the consequences and will not continue with the fads of so-called ‘environmentalists’. Only that way can we protect our future and that of the countryside.

    28 May, 2008 at 1:36 pm

  14. Do we I wonder really have a choice about a vision for 2026 or is it already a done deal?

    AS David Cameron said “Another fad that made absolutely no sense was John Prescott’s regionalisation agenda. It proved spectacularly unpopular”

    About 80% of the North East voted against it but many were unaware that the unelected Regional Assembly,then in operation, was the alternative!!!

    David Cameron also stated “His (Prescott’s) grand scheme to impose regional government across England fell at the first hurdle when a referendum in the North East threw out the idea”.

    Yet the unelected Regional Assembly then prepared the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) to provide a broad strategy for the region for 15-20 years and created a positive planning policy framework for renewable energy Emphasis is on targets

    The strength of energy policy overriding landscape effect is demonstrated in Planning Magazine Today 30 May 2008

    Plans for two 3MW wind turbines won approval in Suffolk after an inspector allowed the appeal The turbines with a maximum height of 125m adjacent to a wildlife park and 200m outside the Suffolk Coast and Heaths area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

    The Inspector agreed that the development of renewable energy resources is vital in facilitating the government’s commitments on both climate change and renewable energy. He accepted that the scheme would inevitably cause some harm to the northern part of the AONB and to the countryside in the immediate area. However, he judged that the need to meet renewable energy targets was overriding. He observed that the turbines could be removed should wind energy technologies be superseded in future.

    All we ask is for a balance, for the true cost of carbon abatement from renewable sources to be stated and whether consumers really are not only willing but can afford to pay this.

    30 May, 2008 at 7:22 pm

  15. Richard Cowen

    David Cameron is right when he says the countryside is not a museum. For many it is their place of work and the countryside would lose much of its character if that should ever change. It would be a sign that country dwellers had all left for the cities, putting an intolerable burden on them and leaving the countryside neglected.

    But that does not mean the countryside is a free for all for developers. Unfortunately we are seeing more and more pressure being put on our countryside. From housing development in the south to wind farms in the north, with airport expansion all over, the pressures are ever mounting. Every little bit is one more piece of our countryside lost, possibly irretrievably, and the incremental effect is now getting worrying.

    A museum the countryside is not. Vibrant it may be, but let us not also forget tranquillity. Tranquillity is hugely important to CPRE. It does not mean total silence. Birdsong, waterfalls and wind in the trees may not be silent, but they and even the sound of a tractor are part of the countryside and tranquillity surely means that those sounds are not drowned by our industrial noise. That cannot happen, you may say. Yet more and more traffic intrudes upon tranquillity, every housing or industrial development encroaches not just directly on the land it occupies but also indirectly on surrounding countryside and its tranquillity. And wind farms are even encroaching directly on our wildernesses, places where perhaps it really should be said no development should intrude except in the most exceptional circumstances.

    Maybe this is not the place to argue issues like economic growth and jobs or climate change but I believe a sense of proportion must be retained. I fear that is being lost with our decision makers, especially when a developer mentions renewable energy and saving the planet. Whatever may be the arguments for or against climate change, any remedy should be assessed for its effectiveness before it is applied wholesale throughout the country and, frankly, that is not happening with wind power. This appears particulalry so in my area, Durham, where LPAs appear to be falling over themselves to approve wind farms with no consideration for their real effectiveness. The cumulative effect of these developments in parts of Durham is now becoming a matter of concern.

    Michael Crighton’s thriller, “State of Fear”, may be just that, a thriller in true James Bond fashion. But he has also done a considerable amount of research into this subject and cited his authorities. Whether he is right or wrong, I believe this book is an essential read for all those who will have the planet doomed within the next century or so. And that may just help save our countryside from much inappropriate development.

    31 May, 2008 at 9:57 pm

  16. I listened with great interest to the words by David Cameron. I only wish that our Conservative Councillors here in Suffolk Coastal would listen to him. They are hell bent on destroying the countryside here on the Felixstowe peninsular. They have decided to go BEYOND that required by the ongoing housing initiative instigated by the current Labour Government and build MORE houses than is required of them. Furthermore, concentrating them at the end of Felixstowe peninsular with only 1 road in/out with little distribution elsewhere in the District where house prices are far higher and locals haven’t a chance to buy houses. The only other major area identified for major housing was compelled by the EERA else the situation would be even worse!

    The farmland concerned was identified by Town Planning consultants engaged by the Council as an important local amenity which should be protected because of its importance to wildlife, tourism & the town being enjoyed by residents & tourists for walking, jogging, cycling, bird watching. They recommended the land abutting an AONB be extended to include much of it. It is currently grade 1 agricultural land, designated as environmentally sensitive, rich in wildlife including RSPB red list species. Richard Ward of the CPRE states the CPRE cannot support any of the proposed options in his response. David Cameron stated previously that many believe food security was as important as national security and energy security. Grade 1 is as good as it gets, we should be saving it!

    Our local MP, John Gummer, whilst stating he is vehemently opposed to building on green field sites will not get involved. I have personally asked him to intervene at one of his surgerys.

    During a recent consultation we have seen;

    i) exclusively Conservative Felixstowe town councillors ignore large volumes of letters asking them to spare countryside abutting an AONB, many people feel is sacrosanct, vote to destroy this land. All other parties voted to protect it!

    ii) exclusively Conservative Felixstowe town councillors voted NOT to have a public meeting in the town to discuss & raise awareness. All others parties voted for a public debate/meeting.

    iii) residents shut out of the Council meeting, the only meeting in the town on the subject, because the venue was too small.

    Our campaign group http://www.savefelixstowecountryside.co.uk replicated and posted consultation papers at our own expense to many households in the area to raise awareness. The result of the consultation is available for all to see on the Suffolk Coastal website. It is not easily linkable but a direct link is available from the http://www.savefelixstowecountryside.co.uk website front page to see the strength of feeling.

    Please will YOU help us by aligning OUR Conservative representitives with YOUR message – please get in touch! I believe it will take an external influence to overturn. Many suspect there may be more behind the determination by Conservative councillors to develop on this much loved area than meeting government figures….

    5 June, 2008 at 8:12 pm

  17. Any Vision for the countryside in 2026 must be coloured by the current planning system.

    The Editor of RTPI’s Planning Journal this week describes the Planning Bill as anti-democracy, anti- accountability and anti- public. He says the government’s handling of major infrastructure issues could make the script for a Laurel and Hardy movie!

    Furthermore 2026 Jan 1st is the cut off date for extinguishing all footpaths and bridleways that existed before 1949 and are not on the definitive maps. All public rights will be removed.
    Natural England it appears is to recommend that the ‘Discovering Lost Ways Project’ be abandoned as DEFRA an NE cannot complete the task due to lack of resources
    The project a quid pro quo to land owners for access rights created by Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000

    The Open Spaces Society OSS is seeking to have the cut off date repealed and I hope CPRE will support them if they have not already done so Full details are on the OSS website

    Durham Branch CPRE is currently involved in the Rights of Way Improvement Plan ROWIP. Definitive maps have been mentioned and we are concerned that some paths may not be recorded.

    We are losing so much ‘green spaces’ everywhere, places where people can seek solace peace and tranquillity in a world so full of stress
    The 2026 vision must take this on board.
    .

    9 June, 2008 at 8:18 am

  18. Mary Neff

    I found David Cameron’s speech very interesting and thought-provoking in many ways (in spite of the slightly inappropriate party political point scoring). However, it raised three concerns.

    1) He did not at all address the question of what sort of countryside and landscape we want to see in twenty years’ time. I came to the event expecting that to be the theme of the speech. Does the Conservative Party have any long term vision for the countryside? If it does, I haven’t heard it.

    2) I don’t doubt Mr Cameron’s commitment to rural communities. CPRE needs to recognise more than it does the importance of ‘social value’. But asserting the importance of social value against economic value is not enough. The speech was silent on evironmental value or cultural value. A development – a new road or community centre, for instance – might benefit a village but damage the countryside. How to assess the social value then? The villagers might benefit in some way, but what about the impact of losing yet another piece of undisturbed countryside? Open countryside has great value too, whether you want to call that social, cultural or environmental value. It would be good to hear David Cameron acknowledging that.

    3) The example from Felixstowe, above, illustrates the difficulties of trusting local councils, whatever their political complexion, to ‘do the right thing’. Will the Conservative Party support the national guidance on housing density and brownfield development that has saved so much countryside over the last ten years? There is little use in willing the end if you are not also prepared to will the means, and we are unlikely to get the sort of development we need without strong national planning guidance and, dare I say it, strategic regional planning.

    So, a good speech, but lots of questions inevitably remain.

    13 June, 2008 at 10:28 am

  19. Pat Blackburn

    I hope that David Cameron will not take too seriously the comments of those who want to deny or minimise the importance of climate change, whether on this blog or within his party. He has performed a valuable service in putting climate change towards the top of the political agenda!

    But I wonder why so many people want to spend their time finding reasons to deny climate change. One possible explanation is given by Robin McKie in his Observer review of Nigel Lawson’s book ‘An Appeal to Reason’: “What really grates is Lawson’s conviction that most of the world’s climatologists, meteorologists, atmospheric physicists, Arctic experts, and biologists, as well several Nobel Prize winners, are all stupid, misguided and wrong in thinking manmade global warming is real. By contrast, Lawson … is virtually the only one with the brains to work out the Truth.

    “It is breathtaking arrogance, to say the least, although Lawson is not alone in displaying it. Several other individuals, usually male, elderly, and right wing, still deny climate change is happening, mainly because they cannot stand the thought that greenies may be right and that we will have to curtail our use of big cars, international flights and other carbon-boosting luxuries. These Grumpy Old Deniers feel their lifestyles are threatened by greenies and so reject the entire concept of global warming.”

    Full marks to David Cameron for going with the 99% of scientists who say that climate change is a huge threat to the planet (and the English countryside!) rather than with a small bunch of sceptics.

    13 June, 2008 at 10:37 am

  20. Not a grumpy old denier but someone with a foot in both camps who has researched renewable energy, particularly onshore wind for the past 10 years. Covering planning applications from Local Council to High Court and providing constructive criticism at BWEA meetings throughout the UK, this is now not about what might or could be but what actually is
    Our main concern has been the weakening of the planning system with the heads they win, tails we lose scenario and the fashionable idea that there are no disbenefits from wind energy Planning has become draconian The UK protocol for wind and the BERR guidance for onshore wind seemed to just ‘appear’ with no prior warning The idea of the IPC seems to make a nonsense of democracy as the people who will be most affected are seemingly being ignored.

    In the North East Wind Turbines are not doing what they promised yet a letter from the Energy Minister stated there were no problems in the North East
    The following figures show the reality
    Load Factors as % Compiled by E Mann from figures on OFGEM website
    Name of wind power station
    2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
    Blyth Harbour Wall 12 11.6 13.2 10.5 9.57
    Great Eppleton 11.2 15 zero zero zero
    Kirkheaton 25.3 26.8 23.2 27.6 25.74
    Tow Law 26.2 31.7 30.8 28.6 21.64
    High Hedley Hope 27.4 32.2 33.8 28.6 31.89
    GlaxoSmithKline ——— —- 8.9 8.2 10.07
    Holmside ——- —- 19.1 14.2 16.7
    Holmside nffo ——– ——- 19.8 16.2 22.03
    Hare Hill ————— 14.6 16.2 21.94
    Hare Hill nffo —————- 18.3 21.1 18.29
    *High Volts ——— 15.7 18.4 15.5 21.38
    *High Volts nffo ——— 30.1 20.1 6.6 21.74
    Blyth offshore WTG 1 16.2 26.5 8.8 2.1
    Blyth offshore WTG 2 zero zero zero zero zero
    (2002 LF WTG2 zero)

    Is this the real Inconvenient Truth?

    15 June, 2008 at 1:49 pm

  21. AnnB

    I hope Cameron and his party start to back words with real actions. To use the NHS as an example of the failings of the current government is ironic as it choses to ignore the damage done by his own party when they were in power – and after 40 years in it I know nothings really changed.
    I can only hope that they will have better success in areas relating to protecting this beautiful country and not allowing developers to concrete over as much as they can.
    I also hope his party remembers that our heritage is important, including our rural life and farming history. Our farmers turn to alternative sources of income as we allow European rules to drive our farmers to despair.
    I have visited many places in England and hope to visit many more. I do not expect it to remain unchanged – preserved like a museum exhibit – but nor do I feel that building thousands of “affordable” houses, that cannot be “afforded” by most people, or alllowing yet another Tesco or Sainsbury’s to be built on greenfield land is going to make this a better place to live.
    Cameron should stop hiding behind words and start encouraging his party to use actions – using their positions to oppose motions that risk damaging this country. Stop saying “its not right” or just blaming other parties (not easy for a polition I know but it would be nice for a change!)- start actually doing something!

    30 June, 2008 at 7:56 pm

  22. Alexander Douglas

    It may be speculation but the Mayan calendar is predicted to come to an end in 2012 and in its place will come a new consciousness – based on the sacred feminine – bringing with it the values of co-operation, beauty, nurture, tranquillity, love…balancing the masculine violence that we have endured for long before my time. In one case we have seen this violence with the mechanisation of farming and the loss of labour from our land.

    So for the countryside in 2026 the future surely looks promising for these are the values that you seem to hold dear. And Cameron’s warm words, to me, also speaks the language of a new consciousness – based around these social values as he so calls it.

    But are these just words, is Cameron just an empty shell? I fear that he is just another political charlaton like all who have stood before him concerned only with finding the political centre ground. Where are the real leaders who will take a risk and drive us into this new place of higher consciousness?

    It is not only Cameron I fear for. Can you overcome your stuffy conservative values to embrace the change. Indeed can you take your members with you and be the change you wish to see in the countryside? If not, come 2026 your organistion may not be hosting a centenary but a wake.

    30 June, 2008 at 9:18 pm

  23. Andy Roberts

    David Cameron’s arguments are of course, taken at face value, entirely admirable. Who could disagree with such warm words? But overall this speech seems to be a triumph of spin over substance.

    It’s all very well to talk about balancing “social” values against those of “the market”.

    But this comes from someone who has recently also argued that while Margaret Thatcher successfully sorted out “the economy” in the 1980s (by elevating market values over all others!), it is now his mission to sort out “society”.

    But this is surely self-contradictory? It is not possible, in the real world, to make such a distinction between “the economy” and “society” – and also, of course, crucially, “the environment”. All of these are, in reality, inextricably linked in the day-to-day lives of real people and real businesses, in real communities, at every level.

    And how, precisely, would he actually implement such worthy objectives? What specific methodologies would a government led by Cameron use to actually measure “social”, “ethical” or “environmental” values, and balance these against “market” values? The speech is very weak on this.

    And, having measured them, how would David Cameron implement this in practical terms? How would he persuade or, more realistically, compel developers to recognise such values – other than through the tried and tested means of “regulation” (and occasionally even “subsidy”) by democratically elected governments – both central and local – which he, in other contexts, addressed to different audiences, roundly denounces?

    And what would all this actually mean for the rural environment, such a valued yet under-protected social and economic asset?

    He doesn’t actually have anything much specific or practical at all to say on this in this speech – apart from vague hints about decentralisation of power, which all parties tend to make in opposition!

    This leads me to the conclusion that his speech is a bit of “feel-good” but essentially vacuous rhetoric – triangulatory spin that in practice adds up to very little.

    The government has, indeed, also made rather a hash of this, with its over-centralisation – particularly of planning powers – and its constant genuflections to “market” over social, ethical and environmental values. As Cameron quite rightly says, the recent programme of closures of local Post Offices – both rural and urban – is a case in point, where a relatively small public subsidy is well-justified to provide a service to local communities.

    But it stretches the boundaries of credulity to imagine that the Conservative Party, the party of “market” values par excellence, would – once it was in power! – be any better than the current government for those of us who care about the countryside. I therefore remain to be convinced.

    1 July, 2008 at 3:51 pm

  24. Peter Langley

    I was privileged to be present when David Cameron gave his speech on the Future of the Countryside. Some people may feel that this gave too little prominence to some of CPRE’s traditional concerns, such as landscape, tranquillity and green belt. But to me the emphasis on the rural way of life and on ‘social value’ was a salutary one. Making sure that rural areas thrive economically and socially, without destroying their defining physical characteristics, should be close to the heart of what we are about. and much of the energy and impetus for this must come from local communities.

    One element that worries me, however, is Mr Cameron’s apparent willingness to write off regional planning. On the contrary, I believe that regional planning will be fundamental to the task of ensuring that the countryside flourishes socially, economically and environmentally in future. Its significanmce is that it provides a means of reconciling ‘top down’ planning (government policy and all that goes with it) with ‘bottom up’ community based planning. It is essential that regional planning strikes a balance between these potentially conflicting approaches, both of which are essential.

    At the moment, regional planning gets a bad name because it is being used by the Government simply as a means of imposing its will on often reluctant local authorities and other local interests – for example on economic and housing growth. But the answer is not to abolish regional planning altogether but to apply it more sensitively and in a better balanced way. With no structure plans these days, we need regional plans to give an overall sense of direction and cohesion to what each local authority is trying to do and to ensure that the whole is at least as great as the sum of the parts. The regional planning process of recent years has been far from perfect, but it deserves to be reformed, not thrown out with the bathwater.

    1 July, 2008 at 4:52 pm

  25. James Tiernan

    I’m glad to hear that the Conservative party is interested in protecting small shops from out-of-town supermarkets, and that David Cameron thinks that some measure of social value will tip the balance of the market in their favour.

    But what is social value, and what is its relationship with other values, such as liberty? People in small towns and villages choose to go to supermarkets, after all. And what about the social value being created by the cheap cafes in supermarkets, where older and less wealthy people meet up for breakfast without having to spend too much – a particularly important source of social value in an economic downturn, I’d have thought.

    I think a better idea for the Conservatives to look at is the value of diversity. People accept that biodiversity has value – why not diversity in shops?

    2 July, 2008 at 8:56 am

  26. As a result of experiencing a video link as used in yesterday’s CPRE AGM I thought you might find the following of interest.

    The email is from the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) chairman Noel Edmonds (circa 2004)

    Dear Elizabeth,
    As reported in the Sunday Times – through one of my companies, VMC,
    I have offered free video conferencing equipment to the two major UK political parties.
    After many years of trying to open the politicians’ eyes, I am seeking to make sure that they “practice what they preach” by reducing unnecessary travel which in turn will make a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions.
    At the present time transportation equates to over 30% of CO2 emissions and so even a small reduction in unnecessary travel will have a positive impact upon this very serious issue. Indeed reducing just 5% of existing UK travel will totally negate the emissions argument associated with wind turbines! As you will see from my work with the Meeting Without Moving Foundation,(meetingwithoutmoving.com), and the Renewable Energy Foundation (ref.org.uk)

    I believe we have to have a totally fresh approach to the way in which we work, the way in which we travel, and our relationship with our environment and our use of natural resources. Harnessing modern technology and encouraging behavioral change is vital if we are to address many of the serious issues which we now all face. I hope this is sufficient clarification for you.
    Best wishes,
    Noel

    I add my comments what could be more genuine than the realisation that we need to accept a change in lifestyle with everyone doing their bit? Being less wasteful could help to save the planet and save us all money. This could be part of the answer and was mooted about ten years ago

    Did not the Energy White Paper EWP stress reducing consumption through efficiency and conservation measures, also development of primarily marine renewables, offshore wind wave and tidal power? (Extract from my response to PPS22 consultation)

    Can that consumer-led subsidy, the Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs)* ever be justified? Every home should be adequately and affordably heated
    Each Wind turbine of 2MW installed capacity attracts the ROC ‘support mechanism’ of about £6.25 million over the 25 year life of the wind power station, operating at about 30% load factor

    NOW reduction of CO2 emissions and other pollutants seem lost in the race for regional targets, mainly onshore wind, said to be the answer to combat climate change. This was a real catch 22 as until wind turbines were operational we could not prove whether wind turbines were reducing co2 emissions as expected. Not what might could or should be but what actually is. The facts and figures are there

    4 July, 2008 at 7:52 am

  27. Christopher Napier

    As Vice Chairman of CPRE, I welcome David Cameron’s clear committment in his speech to the need to cherish the beauty of our landscape and the cultures and traditions that sustain our rural life. Politicians who feel this “in their bones” will be very welcome.

    Much of David’s speech concentrated on social value, and the damage that has been done by the placing of economic value above social value. Most members of CPRE will agree with this, and will be looking to a new administration to put local services back into our rural communities, both for community reasons and to reduce use of the car. I feel sure that this can be achieved without the degree of subsidy that we have seen in recent times, especially by freeing up regulation and allowing communities to come up with their own models, which they will then want to ensure work on a long term basis. We have seen this where villages have managed to re-open village shops. No doubt David will confirm that this is the sort of thing he wants to see for the future.

    So, social value “Yes”, but where was the discussion of environmental value to be found in David’s speech? This, to me, was the missing link. Sustainability is about integrating (NOT balancing or trading off) ecomomic, social and environmental factors in every decison we take. The recent preference in Governemntal circles for putting economic factors very clearly before environmental factors has been very worrying to anyone interested in our landscape, countryside and the natural environment generally. Happily, not much has actually happened in terms of implementation on the ground of these mistaken policies.

    So, what I am hoping for in David’s response to this blog is that he really meant to include “environmental value” and environmental integration all the time, but just chose to concentrate on “social value” in his speech. If he can do that, then there will be much relief amongst those many CPRE members, and millions of others who love our beautiful countryside.

    Christopher

    4 July, 2008 at 2:04 pm

  28. Jon Reeds

    The debate CPRE has started about the English countryside is a timely one, but I believe you can’t consider the countryside without considering its symbiotic twin – the town. And while we’re about it, why not extend it to the rest of the UK?

    So I’d like to widen out your debate with a complementary perspective. It may come as a surprise to discover this comes from the land of 18-lane highways and hypersprawl – the United States. Its developmental excesses are real enough but in the last 15 years they have brought about the emergence of America’s “Smart Growth” movement which is promoting a very different future based on compact, functional, mixed-use towns and cities, served by rail-based transit, community development and opposition to urban sprawl and high-rise. UK environmentalists may think this sounds like motherhood and apple pie, but many, many US states and cities are actually making it work.

    The UK, with its problems of overcrowding, low-density sprawl, the pressure on its countryside and a dysfunctional transport system, is different to America in some ways but can actually learn a great deal from the Smart Growth movement. We have yet to unlearn the old prejudices about unfettered freedom to drive or the joys of building over the countryside in pursuit of “garden city” living. I would like to put forward my own brief summary of how the country might look in 2026 if it adopted – and adapted – Smart Growth solutions to UK problems:-

    A Smart Growth UK Vision for 2026.

    By 2026, although things look superficially similar to 2008, the country has changed significantly. Climate change is now having a real impact and people are widely adopting Smart Growth solutions, believing that their cities, towns and villages need to be redeveloped as sustainable communities. The Smart Growth solutions applied in America – safe, convenient, attractive and affordable communities with better access but less traffic and strict control of sprawl – have been successfully adapted for the UK. Redevelopment in our towns and cities now aims to produce compact, multi-use communities, mixing living, working and shopping facilities in walkable neighbourhoods.

    Fossil fuels have become scarcer and much more expensive and, for climate change reasons, their use is strongly discouraged. There has been some development of electric vehicles but, for the most part, urban dwellers place little reliance on their cars for everyday journeys. Traffic restraint measures such as congestion charging operate in all large conurbations, and smaller towns are starting to follow suit. Public transport, by contrast, is on the mend with light rail or transit schemes already built or underway in all major conurbations and some smaller cities. Urban and inter-urban rail capacity has been improved and expanded while abandoned lines have been safeguarded and are starting to reopen. Walking and cycling play a bigger part in our lives.

    House building has been extensive over the past 18 years but policy is no longer led by house building targets and the low-density greenfield sprawl of earlier times is a thing of the past. More people now live within the urban footprint of existing towns. We have relearned from earlier times the art of making towns through principles like “low-rise, high-density”, live frontages in town centres and walkability. The terraced house and the local shop have seen a renaissance while high-rise flats and out-of-town shopping are in sharp decline. Families still like homes with gardens, but such household numbers are static and the new housing provision now reflects where the actual growth in households is – the over-55s. A large proportion of the new housing is, therefore, devoted to meeting the needs of older people through a range of increasingly flexible housing and easier ways of moving between them as their needs change, and there are incentives for them to free up family housing when they no longer need it for those who do. Fiscal disincentives to buy-to-let, a prohibition on buy-to-leave, a renewed social housing programme and incentives to reuse empty homes have all combined to reduce the affordability problem and ensure suitable homes for all.

    Following the world food crises of the century’s second decade, we have become much more protective of agricultural land. There is a new emphasis on home-produced and local foods, and environmental protection and organic principles are supported much more widely. National parks and AONBs have been significantly extended in number and size and a range of stronger protection designations applies to all undeveloped “greenfield land”, not just green belts. Our rural communities are sustained by new multi-function outlets. It is now easier to enjoy the countryside, with improvements to footpaths and cycle tracks and the renaissance of rural public transport including reopening of railway lines through community partnerships.

    Financial incentives for developers to use brownfield land have been developed, with disincentives in place for greenfield development. Targets for employment sites on brownfield land have also been introduced. To ensure the supply of brownfield land in urban areas, the contaminated land regime is fully operational, 36 years after the Act demanded it, but the spread of economic activity beyond southern and eastern England has also played a key role. The restoration of the agricultural economy, matched by an increase in manufacturing, and combined with increased local production for local needs has reduced our dependence on the global market in goods and food. It has also meant that the population move to the south and east of England has not only decreased but started to reverse. The availability of brownfield land in other regions has drastically reduced the need for releases of undeveloped land for development.

    Lifestyles have changed in conjunction with changing car use. Long distance journeys are generally made by public transport and long distance commuting by car is both expensive and unpopular. Large settlements wholly dependent on the motor car are starting to decline as people leave for more sustainable locations. Flying is now expensive and tightly restricted and largely confined to unavoidable business or family needs while airport expansion is now a distant memory. Britain and France are now building a second Channel Tunnel and, while new high-speed rail links to the Mediterranean have sustained its holiday business, it is now too hot to visit in the summer, bringing a renaissance to British sea-side resorts and country holidays.

    Coal, gas and oil usage has substantially declined and there is now a greater emphasis on sustainable resources. Offshore, this includes tidal, wind and wave energy, onshore capacity being given by geothermal, wind and hydroelectricity. Bio-fuels also make a contribution, though less than predicted in 2008, and the reliance of nuclear power has also been less than expected due to the costs involved.

    But despite our adaptations, climate change remains an ever-present consideration. Increased storminess and summer heat and drought have been sustained and coastal areas have continued to be affected by sea-level rises and changes in wind and wave climates. Flood defences have become increasingly sophisticated and some low-lying land is now used for flood water storage but inland and coastal flooding are still an increasing problem. Some areas are being returned to flood plains and people are now deserting some settlements subject to regular severe flooding.

    To adapt to the changing climate, the importance of trees and vegetation in urban areas is now recognised. There are strict restrictions on ‘soil-sealing’, to protect our soils’ ability to retain and store carbon and to allow rain water to penetrate to sustain our water supplies and reduce flooding. Increasing areas of moorland are being managed for peat formation and carbon sequestration. Our towns have been resurfaced with permeable surfaces and have improved urban drainage systems.

    For while we have lost things we presently abuse, such as unfettered movement, we have gained much too. Our countryside is better protected and life in our towns is much improved thanks to the new emphasis on community. Flight to distant suburbs no longer has any appeal and, for the first time in decades, we are all trying to work together to make our communities function. Smart Growth – it’s growth, but not as we know it.

    Jon Reeds
    June 2008

    To find out more about Smart Growth visit:-

    http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/

    http://www.smartgrowth.org/

    4 July, 2008 at 3:08 pm

  29. The reality of any 2026 vision will actually be the result of which developments we have and where they are located. This in turn hinges on planning rules, currently in a state of flux.
    Many developments seem to allow economic issues to upstage environmental ones and are undemocratic in their lack of concern for human beings. We do need some development but planners developers and even the general public seem to assume the ‘environment’ involves only physical factors, flora and fauna and not people

    May I draw attention to the EU directive 85/337/EEC on Environmental Assessment and from which our UK Regulations derive?

    Article 3 states:

    “The environmental impact assessment will identify, describe and assess in an appropriate manner…. the direct and indirect effects of a project on the following factors:

    human beings, fauna and flora,
    soil, water, air, climate and the landscape,
    the inter-action between the factors mentioned in the first and second indents, material assets and the cultural heritage”

    I hope too that any vision will take into account the quality of life of all pepople and not just certain sectors as seems to be the current fashion. One example; people on low wages who need their own transport to get to work in isolated areas where there can never be public transport.

    6 July, 2008 at 10:58 pm

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