Sevenoaks sticks to its guns and refuses to withdraw draft Local Plan from examination

Sevenoaks Council District Council is on collision course with the Planning Inspectorate after refusing to withdraw its draft Local Plan from examination.
Planning inspector Karen Baker in October last year warned the local authority that she would issue a report concluding its Plan was unsound if it was not withdrawn.
Her letter, sent on Thursday, October 17, said: “I have significant concerns about a number of aspects of the Plan, both in terms of legal compliance and soundness.
“My main concern relates to the lack of constructive engagement with neighbouring authorities to resolve the issue of unmet housing need and the absence of strategic cross-boundary planning to examine how the identified needs could be accommodated…
“Furthermore, I have significant concerns about the soundness of the Plan in respect of a number of areas including the approach to sustainability appraisal, the chosen strategy for growth, the assessment of the Green Belt and housing supply and distribution.”
Council leader Peter Fleming promptly gave a stinging response : “It is clear to me the way this has been handled calls into question the integrity of the whole Plan-making system in this country…
“To call into question an evidence-led approach comes to the root of our concerns with the actions of the inspector. If we are not to follow the evidence to make our Plan then the government may just as well dictate how many homes an area should have and then pick sites, we need to put an end to the thinly veiled charade that Local Plans are in any way locally led.”
The council has stuck to guns and on Wednesday, January 8, put a forthright statement on its website:
“In the latest response to the planning inspector, Sevenoaks District Council has vowed not to withdraw its draft Local Plan, despite continued pressure to do so,” it read.
“The council’s strategic planning manager, James Gleave, confirms in the response dated 3 January that the council will not voluntarily withdraw its Local Plan from examination and continues to disagree with the conclusions made by the planning inspector.
“The government-appointed planning inspector, Karen Baker, wrote again to the council on 13 December 2019 urging it to withdraw the Local Plan from examination.
“She repeating her belief that the council has not carried out its duty to co-operate with neighbouring councils to find sites for new homes that cannot be delivered due to constraints such as the Green Belt.
“The inspector believes the council had not done enough to address the ‘unmet housing need’ despite the proposals achieving almost 90 per cent of the government’s housing target.
“Mr Gleave goes on to say while the planning inspector highlights the council’s perceived failings, she does not provide a clear understanding of what constructive engagement with neighbours should be.
“She fails to take the pragmatic approach expected in the legislation and ignores significant evidence, much of it from the council’s neighbours and independent experts.”
The council statement is concluded by leader Cllr Fleming, who says: “I will be writing to the Secretary of State on this matter and urgently asking him to intervene.
“It appears something is very wrong with the system if a council with its communities works hard for four years to produce an evidence-based Plan that delivers housing, jobs and infrastructure investment, whilst protecting the environment, only to be halted by a single individual.
“We will not be withdrawing our Local Plan and the inspector will produce her report in due course. We will then take the strongest action open to us.”

  • For more on this story, see here

Monday, January 20, 2020

Happy New Year… and let’s all enjoy Kent!

Snow? You never know! (pic Chris Barnes)

Happy New Year to you!
We hope you enjoyed a relaxing and uplifting Christmas and New Year holiday – we all need to recharge the batteries every so often.
And now? Well, fully refreshed, it’s back to business. Our first appeal is for everyone to savour and cherish our county of Kent. Get out there and enjoy it!
Of course, special places must be kept special and that is why CPRE Kent exists: to fight for and protect all that we love about our county’s countryside.
These are busy times, so please keep checking out this website and our Facebook page and Twitter feed. We need you with us on the journey!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Happy Christmas and thank you for all your support!

CPRE Kent chairman John Wotton and Canterbury stalwart Barrie Gore share the smiles
Just add food… diners are ready for lunch. Patron Sir Robert Worcester is on the right.
Hat’s the way to do it!
Your ever-lovely staff…

It’s at this time of year that we tend to assail you with news of what a busy year it’s been for CPRE Kent.
Well, of course it has been a hectic year and there is precious little sign of things slowing down any time soon. We are, as ever, involved in any number of battles and campaigns in the effort to keep Kent a county in which it is fit to live.
However, this is a time of good cheer, so this year we won’t dwell on that. Instead, we’ll just point to a couple of victories from 2019 – one local (although with a far wider context) and the other on a national level – and leave you to enjoy what will hopefully be a lovely, peaceful Christmas and happy New Year.  
The Court of Appeal verdict on Pond Farm, Newington, confirmed the refusal of a Gladman Developments scheme for up to 330 homes and an ‘Extra Care’ facility at the site but, arguably more significantly, stressed the importance of air quality in planning decisions. The impact of this success should be felt far and wide.
Nationally, we saw a victory over the ill-begotten bid to fast-track planning in relation to fracking applications through Permitted Development Rights, which had been intended originally for such matters as household conservatories and patios.
So, you see we can turn some things around. We won’t win every battle, but we can win some. And if CPRE Kent and our allies aren’t around to fight them, who will be?
Happy Christmas and thank you all for your support of CPRE Kent!
PS: As a special treat, we’ve included some shots from the CPRE Kent Christmas lunch.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Water meadows campaign hits initial funding target in just nine days

The £5,000 crowdfunding target set by campaigners in the battle to stop the destruction of Wincheap Water Meadows has been hit – 21 days ahead of the January 5 deadline.
It has taken just nine days since campaign group Save Wincheap Water Meadows set up the CrowdJustice page to raise the money, demonstrating the concern so many people have about the site.
It will help fund CPRE Kent’s application to the High Court for a judicial review of the decision by Canterbury City Council’s planning committee to grant permission for an extension of the council’s own Wincheap Park & Ride over an area of undeveloped riverside.
Sian Pettman, of Save Wincheap Water Meadows, said: “Great news! The campaign has now exceeded its initial target of raising £5,000 as a contribution towards legal action to protect the meadows.
“That’s an amazing achievement considering the fact that the appeal was only launched nine days ago and still has 21 days to run.
“It is a clear testament to the strength of feeling in the local community about the need to protect this much-loved stretch of the Stour Valley.
“Thank you to everyone who donated. The next target towards the cost of a judicial review will be larger, but that will be for the New Year!
“The CrowdJustice page now indicates our stretch target of £25,000, but we won’t start to push that until the New Year.”

  • If you would like to contribute to the campaign to save Wincheap Water Meadows, please click here
  • For more on this story, please see herehere and here

Monday, December 16, 2019

Choose your gifts wisely and Christmas really can give to the environment

Did you know you can get eco-friendly brown masking tape?
Don’t feel ashamed if the answer to this taxing question is no, you didn’t. We’re sure you’re not alone.
Either way, the rather splendid news is that, yes, you can get this must-have festive accessory – and we can help you in your quest.
Eco-friendly brown masking tape is just one item that could help your Christmas be the greenest ever.
White-paper snowflake decorations, eco crackers and recycled wrapping paper can all contribute to a healthy green glow on you and yours over this most wonderful time of the year.   
And, of course, an eco-friendly lifestyle is not just for Christmas! A whole range of goodies are available that will make both fantastic gifts for your loved ones and life very much finer for our natural neighbours.
These include bug hotels, bee-bombs (native wildflower seed-balls) and fake wasp-nests (that’s fake nests, not creatures masquerading as wasps, and just to be clear, they help deter wasps and hornets from building nests nearby rather than encourage them… but all in a nature-friendly fashion).
We’re sure you must be solely tempted to buy some, if not all, of these delectable treats – and, as it’s Christmas, we’ve made it easy for you! All you need to do is click on the links below.
Just one thing we’d like to ask in return: please do buy through Amazon Smile and raise a little money for CPRE Kent. Just in case you don’t know how to do this, you need to register with Amazon Smile. And that, dear friends, takes just a couple of seconds. See here

Your presents can help make this Christmas the greenest ever
  • Click here for a bug hotel    
  • Here for a bee-bomb
  • Here for eco crackers
  • Here for white-paper snowflake decorations
  • Here for eco parcel tape
  • Here for recycled Christmas wrapping paper
  • Here for Natural Kraft wrapping paper
  • Here for a fake wasp-nest

Monday, December 9, 2019

How we all stand to lose as our council-owned farms disappear

Stephen and Lynn Briggs at Whitehall Farm

Council-owned county farms are in terminal decline, which means future generations of young farmers – and our communities more broadly – won’t benefit from these wonderful assets, according to a new report launched today (Monday, December 16) by CPRE.
County farms were set up at the end of the 19th century to provide a way into farming for young farmers and have huge potential to generate income, provide an opportunity to promote innovative farming methods and deliver environmentally sustainable farming to help tackle the climate emergency.
Their decline is significant, with the area of county farms in England falling by more than half from 426,000 acres to just under 209,000 acres since the late 1970s – as a result of privatisation, austerity and short-term thinking by governments and councils.
More than 15,000 acres (7 per cent) of council-owned farmland has been lost in the past decade alone, with 60 per cent of this land sold off in the past two years. This alarming trend, warns the report, could continue unless new legislation that protects county farms for future generations is introduced.
However, the key findings from Reviving county farms, which is a report prepared for CPRE by the New Economics Foundation, Shared Assets and Who Owns England?, show that:

• More than 50 per cent of county farm estates have disappeared over the past 40 years

• More than 15,000 acres (7 per cent) of this has been lost in the past decade alone

• Almost 60 per cent of county farmland sold since 2010 has been in the past two years

• Austerity, coupled with a sense that county farms are ‘a thing of the past’, and an unwillingness by some councils to innovate to develop new income streams or business models, is driving the decline of county farms

• Councils that have taken very different approaches, leading them to protect and even expand their county farm estates, have yielded positive results

• County farms could play an important role in addressing the climate emergency and also deliver benefits to local communities, such as providing locally-grown food for nearby schools

• Seven out of nine councils that responded to the survey gave details of environmental and social benefits provided by their county farms, ranging from tree-planting to local education initiatives to supporting new farmers.

Case study
Whitehall Farm is a 100-hectare farm owned by Cambridgeshire County Council and managed by Stephen Briggs on a 15-year tenancy, along with more than 300 hectares of other land.
Briggs has taken an innovative agroforestry arable crops approach to build the profitability, resilience and sustainability of the farm.
He has interplanted arable crops with 4,500 apple trees that provide an income and protect soil and growing crops from the risk of extreme weather as a result of the climate emergency. 
Birds such as grey partridge, owls, tree sparrow, reed bunting and yellowhammer are flourishing in the environmentally sensitive farmland.
Briggs and his wife Lynn have also opened Harvest Barn farm shop and café on their county farm site. The shop sells local and certified organic fresh fruit and vegetables from the farm as well as locally sourced lamb, beef and pork, cakes and biscuits and jams and preserves.
Briggs said: “Thanks to the county farms system, I have been able to run my own farm and try an innovative and successful soils-based farming approach.
“The support I have received from my local county council has been invaluable. I’d like to see all local authorities encourage new entrants with fresh ideas and perspectives like me to go into agriculture to keep this wonderful resource in the community as a vital asset.
“There are economic incentives for councils, too, as the rent from our county farm and its innovative diversifications goes straight back to the county council, helping fund front-line services.”
Graeme Willis, agriculture lead at CPRE, said: “Whitehall Farm is a great example of a county farm having an economic, environmental and social impact.
“Our research shows that the number of county farms in England alarmingly continues to plummet at a time when these wonderful assets should be protected, and invested in, to ensure they’re available for future generations.
“CPRE is calling on the new government to introduce legislation to stop the sale of county farms and to give them a new purpose.
“A package of measures and new funding to enable councils to enhance and invest in their estates and better promote them is urgently needed.
“CPRE wants to see county farms recognised locally and nationally for their potential to address the climate emergency and deliver wider public benefits to meet the needs of their communities.”
Kate Swade, report co-author, said: “The sell-off of the county farms estate is a national tragedy, squandering a public resource that is crucial to getting fresh blood into farming. Enough is enough: it’s time the new government halted the sale of county farms and invested in them properly for the future.”

Monday, December 16, 2019

The Green Belt: its value is obvious but should we be cherishing it a little more?

Eynsford viaduct lies in the Metropolitan Green Belt (pic Glen Humble, flickr)

A report by a cross-party Parliamentary group shows that London’s Metropolitan Green Belt, some of which lies in Kent, not only protects against urban sprawl but also provides vital countryside on our doorstep for health and well-being. Benefits include:

•          26, 267 hectares of Sites of Special Scientific Interest
•          5,400 hectares of local nature reserves
•          44 per cent of London’s Wildlife Trust sites
•          10,000 km of public rights of way for use by walkers, cyclists and horse riders
•          An area of which almost a quarter (24%) is designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

A new report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for London’s Green Belt shows that the London Metropolitan Green Belt (LMGB) not only protects against urban sprawl, it’s also the ‘countryside on our doorstep’, containing much of the capital’s natural reserves and wildlife, which is vital for Londoners and those in neighbouring counties to spend time in for their health and well-being.
The findings by the group of MPs in their report A Positive Vision for London’s Green Belt show that the LMGB is home to public rights of way used by walkers and cyclists, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Wildlife Trust sites and open farmland – all of which provide important long-term benefit for all those living in and around the capital.
Findings highlight the value of ‘green-prescribing’ and the positive impact of the Green Belt on people’s mental health, physical well-being, local food production and the capital’s ability to address the climate emergency, such as supporting the targets set out in the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.
However, despite these benefits, research also shows that the purpose of London’s Green Belt is under threat from new housing development. There are advanced plans for some 100,000 houses – with more than double this number in the planning pipeline – yet “little evidence that any of these homes will be ‘affordable homes’ for key workers, young people and young families”.
This is even though there is space for well over 280,000 homes on previously developed brownfield land within Greater London alone.
The report recommends bold new measures to protect the Green Belt for those living in and around the capital:
•          An advisory council be set up to conduct a comprehensive review of the LMGB and create a 25-year strategy for its future, following the objectives set out in the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan
•          Funding be provided on the same basis as that for National or Regional Parks to improve the landscape, biodiversity, water retention and carbon sequestration abilities of the LMGB to ensure it delivers multiple benefits for local communities
•          Action be taken to ensure that everyone in and around London, and further afield, feels able to access the benefits of the countryside close at hand
•          A review of the National Policy Planning Framework to ensure that the Green Belt is better protected from inappropriate development.
MP Crispin Blunt MP, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for London’s Green Belt, said: “The APPG for London’s Green Belt was set up in response to the rapidly increasing pressure for development on Green Belt land that has escalated over the last few years and is now reaching a crisis point.
“As a society, we have to decide whether or not we value the Green Belt sufficiently to prevent its erosion and subsequent disappearance in the coming decades. We have chosen to focus on the positive benefits of London’s Green Belt as we want these to complement its importance as the central defence against urban sprawl. Once Green Belt has been developed, it is impossible to get it back again.”
Tom Fyans, CPRE deputy chief executive, said: “Green Belts provide a huge opportunity to help us in our efforts to address the climate emergency and wildlife crisis while supporting the improved health and well-being of people living and working in and around London, which is continually being ignored.
“Now is the time to take new and bold action to keep this valuable green resource for future generations.”
He was supported by Richard Knox-Johnston, chair of the London Green Belt Council and vice-president of Kent CPRE: “Accessible open countryside adjoining urban London has a vital role to play in assisting in the climate emergency, improving health and well-being, giving opportunities for recreation and providing fresh and nutritious food close to the city centre.
“At present, there is no overall organisation with responsibility for the use of land in London’s Green Belt that would be able to create a long-term strategy for its beneficial use and protection.
“We need a clear vision and strategy for London’s Green Belt to ensure it can provide its important resource for those living and working in and around London.”

Monday, December 16, 2019

Wincheap Water Meadows campaign gets off to a flyer… can you help it over the first hurdle?

The battle to save Wincheap Water Meadows in Canterbury from the expansion of a car park has got off to a fantastic start, with money pouring in from supporters.
CPRE Kent is calling for a judicial review of the decision by the city council’s planning committee to grant permission for a 228-space extension of the council’s own Wincheap Park & Ride over an area of undeveloped riverside.
We have teamed up with the Save Wincheap Water Meadows campaign to challenge this destruction of floodplain next to the River Stour (the site flooded only last weekend) – a Local Wildlife Site in an Area of High Landscape Value and part of the designated Stour Valley Green Corridor.
Both groups believe that other sites could be used or alternatively part of the existing car park could be decked.
Although the application has been approved by the council’s planning committee, a final decision on the project will be taken by full council next year.
Legal challenges are of course an expensive business and Save Wincheap Water Meadows has set up a CrowdJustice page to raise £5,000 by Sunday, January 5, towards the initial phase of our judicial-review application to the High Court.
Incredibly – although it does of course demonstrate the strength of feeling over the issue – at time of writing £4,385 has already been pledged.
With just a little over £600 needed to break that £5,000 barrier, we’re asking all who care for this wonderful natural resource in the city to chip in and help get things moving in the High Court. Some things really are worth fighting for.

The meadows in May
  • If you would like to contribute to the campaign to save Wincheap Water Meadows, please click here
  • For more on this story, please see here and here

Friday, December 13, 2019

Legal challenge launched against plan to develop water meadows for car park extension

Beautiful… Wincheap Water Meadows

CPRE Kent is legally challenging the decision by Canterbury City Council to award itself planning permission for the expansion of a car park over an area of undeveloped riverside.
The local authority’s planning committee approved the council’s own planning application on Tuesday, October 15, meaning that, if it goes ahead, the Wincheap Park & Ride extension will cover a stretch of floodplain next to the River Stour, an area known as Wincheap Water Meadows.
This is a Local Wildlife Site, lies in an Area of High Landscape Value and is part of the designated Stour Valley Green Corridor.
The city council says it needs to extend the park & ride at Wincheap once a new A2 slip road has been built, but CPRE Kent, supported by the Save Wincheap Water Meadows campaign, says there are other sites that could be used or alternatively part of the existing car park could be decked.
CPRE Kent is now calling for a judicial review of the council planning committee’s decision and the way it was arrived at.
The legal challenge rests on three grounds:
• Failure to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment
• Legal errors in the Habitats Regulation Assessment
• Misleading claims that the site had been ‘allocated’ in the Local Plan and that it would not have a harmful effect on the landscape
Hilary Newport, CPRE Kent director, said: “This is not the sort of action we take lightly, but sometimes a planning decision is simply wrong and we can’t stand by and watch a precious natural asset to so many people be destroyed.
“This is very much one of those occasions.”   
Although the application has been approved by the council’s planning committee, a final decision on the project will be taken by full council next year.
Save Wincheap Water Meadows is working with CPRE Kent and has pledged to raise £5,000 to help fund the initial phase of the legal challenge, paying the costs of preparing and filing the application for judicial review. 
A campaign spokesman said: “We need your support. Please help us to save this precious stretch of river valley for future generations.”

  • If you would like to contribute to the campaign to save Wincheap Water Meadows, please click here
  • For more on this story, please see here

Monday, December 9, 2019

CPRE has a new website… what do you think of it?

We’ll keep this one short and sweet… CPRE nationally has been going through a bit of a makeover and a big part of that has been the development of a new website.
It has just gone live and you can visit it here
We would love to know what our Essex members think, so do please let us know at either david.mairs@cprekent.org.uk

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

And here it is… the new CPRE website

As we’re sure you are aware, there is a general election this week. So what do the political hopefuls make of planning in our countryside?

We go to the polls on Thursday… what do the candidates have in mind for our environment?

CPRE Kent has been canvassing candidates in Thursday’s general election for their views on the natural environment, specifically in relation to their constituencies.
All those for whom we hold email addresses were contacted and given a copy of the CPRE document Our countryside: a manifesto for the next government. The candidates were asked if they supported the principles outlined in that manifesto.
We are happy to present the replies we have had here. We thank all those who responded.

Mandy Rossi, Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) for Ashford:

Thank you for getting in touch.
Our plan for a Green New Deal will transform the UK and improve the quality of everyone’s lives by creating a safer, fairer future for all.
This is a comprehensive 10-year plan ambitious enough to tackle climate and ecological breakdown at the scale and speed set out by science. It will deliver a fast and fair transformation of our economy and society, renewing almost every aspect of life in the UK: from the way we produce and consume energy to the way in which we grow the food we eat, and how we work, travel and heat our homes.
As the originators of the Green New Deal, we are the only party you can trust to act in time to tackle the climate emergency and rapidly reduce social and economic inequality – and to make these our top priorities.
The Green New Deal will get the UK on track to reducing climate emissions to net zero by 2030 by:
• Meeting most of our energy needs through the domestic production of renewable energy
• Reducing overall energy demand from buildings and homes
• Transforming UK industry, transport and land use
Promote a countryside for all of us
Green spaces can inspire children to be physically active and develop a passion for nature, encouraging them to learn more about the world around them. We would recognise access to diverse nature as a human right and uphold it across society.
We will create a Nature GCSE to encourage children to value nature and to grow a whole new generation of naturalists. We will also introduce an English Climate Emergency Education Act to support schools to teach young people about the urgency, severity and scientific basis of the climate and environmental crises, and to ensure youth voices are heard on climate issues.
We will open up car-free access to the National Parks with new cycling, walking and bus links. We would restore access to the countryside by reopening lost public rights of way and creating new ones. We will grant to people in England and Wales the same right to roam over all landscapes as people in Scotland currently enjoy.
Plan for communities
The Green Party will amend the National Planning Policy Framework so it no longer imposes centrally-set development targets on local councils. We will allow councils to develop their own planning policies, based on genuine local housing need and their requirement to contribute to the creation of at least 100,000 new council homes a year nationally. Councils will be required to balance this need with the need to preserve local ecology and the opportunity to create new green spaces.
We strongly support land designations which prevent inappropriate development on National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, natural habitats of local, regional, national or international importance, sites of special scientific or archaeological interest and ancient woodlands.
Create thriving rural communities
We will build 100,000 new energy-efficient council homes per year for the next 10 years, including in the countryside. We will allocate funding to local authorities for council home creation based on the needs of their area. We will incentivise local authorities to spread small developments across their areas, rather than building huge new estates, and to build, renovate and convert to high-quality designs that respect local architectural heritage. The new council homes will offer secure, lifetime tenancies.
Buses are a lifeline for millions and would be at the centre of our transport policy. We need to make using public transport as simple and straightforward as travelling by car. For too many people in the countryside there is no alternative to the car. Our national bus strategy would be focused on ensuring that it would be cheaper to travel by bus, tram or train than by car – we would do this by lowering fares and would use £3.5 billion per year to do this, funded by the cancellation of HS2.
Bus services must be planned around the needs of rural communities. Local councils would have responsibility the setting of routes, frequencies and fares for buses in their area, with residents fully consulted and involved in shaping these services. We would want to reopen rail lines and stations wherever possible.
The rural economy will face new challenges and opportunities in developing sustainable mixed land use, generating renewable power and in tourism. Better broadband for the countryside is essential. We will better connect rural communities through reliable broadband and mobile internet, delivered through councils who understand local connection needs.
The Green Party’s approach to the countryside is focused on the need to ensure the protection and sustainability of our most important asset.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain our approach to the issues you have raised and, if elected, I look forward to working with CPRE on our shared priorities.

Adrian Gee-Turner, Liberal Democrat PPC for Ashford:

I was brought up in the countryside and worked in agriculture and forestry in my teens and early 20s.
I can agree to support all of your points in full, except one: “Challenging excessive housing targets set by central government: contesting contrived figures that place an unacceptably large development burden on Kent, resulting in unsustainable and damaging proposals across the Medway area” I would need to understand further what alternative ideas you would have as a solution to meeting the need for housing.
I would welcome the opportunity to hear further about what options would work for the countryside to provide good-quality affordable housing.

Anna Firth, Conservative PCC for Canterbury:

Thank you for your email. I am a big supporter of your work and would be very happy to meet with you [CPRE Kent director Hilary Newport] if I am fortunate enough to be elected next week.

Rosie Duffield, Labour Party PCC for Canterbury (via office):

Climate change is the biggest issue facing us all, and I can assure you that Rosie is already championing many of the policies supported by CPRE. 
Last summer Rosie attended the meeting in Westminster hosted by Ed Miliband from Labour and Caroline Lucas from the Green Party when Greta Thunberg made such a moving and influential speech.
Rosie spoke in the following Commons debate and has long supported the Campaign for Clean Air in Canterbury.
We recently published our Labour Party Manifesto It’s Time for Real Change, where the first chapter, A Green Industrial Revolution, includes detailed proposals regarding safeguarding the environment, our Plan for Nature, that addresses the range of issues represented by CPRE.  Our aim is to decarbonise different sectors of the economy within realistic timescales with the aim of relying entirely on renewable sources of energy in the 2030s.
Our manifesto also includes commitments to ecosystem repair and environmental protections, introduction of a Climate and Environment Emergency Bill setting out in law robust, binding new standards for decarbonisation, nature recovery, environmental quality and habitats and species protection.
We will create new National Parks alongside a revised system of other protected area designations, which will guard existing wildlife sites and join up important habitats, while also ensuring more people can enjoy access nature.
We will also maintain and continuously improve existing EU standards of environmental regulation, and introduce a new Clean Air Act, with a vehicle scrappage scheme and clean air zones, complying with World Health Organisation limits for fine particles and nitrous oxides.
The gap between house prices and average incomes has reached the stage where millions of people in the towns and countryside are denied access to secure housing. The only way to deliver on everyone’s right to a good home is to build publicly funded social housing.
The Labour Party sees transport as an essential public service and will increase and expand local services, reinstating the 3,000 routes that have been cut, particularly hitting rural communities.
We will deliver full-fibre broadband free to everybody in every home in our country by creating a new public service, boosting the economy, connecting communities and putting money back in your pocket.
I think you will find that the Labour Party manifesto demonstrates the level of investment urgently needed in rural transport, broadband and housing.
As you can imagine, Rosie is working as hard as she possibly can to be re-elected on December 12. She would very much like to return to Parliament in order to continue to represent the people of Canterbury and Whitstable and to fight for the causes in which she believes, including the paramount imperative of tackling climate change.

Claire Malcomson, Lib Dem PCC for Canterbury:

Thank you for your email.
My time is very pushed in the next couple of weeks, but definitely if I become MP I would be keen to meet with you. I work closely with CPRE locally in Surrey and would continue to do this in Canterbury. I know Max Rosenburg pretty well.
I have also been on our local board of our AONB and you may know I am the environment cabinet member for Mole Valley. 
My priority is always to mitigate climate change. Since declaring a climate emergency, we have been working extremely hard. This year we took over the administration in May and have made huge steps to make our council buildings and our policies more climate-friendly.  
I am well known in my area for standing up for the environment and biodiversity and getting the greenest initiatives as possible on to our Local Plan as possible.
Thank you again for contacting me.

Alan Bullion, Liberal Democrat PCC for Gillingham and Rainham:

As a Medway candidate, do you have more info on [the following point], please? … “Challenging excessive housing targets set by central government: contesting contrived figures that place an unacceptably large development burden on Kent, resulting in unsustainable and damaging proposals across the Medway area”

Stuart Jeffery, Green Party PPC for Maidstone and The Weald:

Thank you for your email. As you are aware, I have been a long-standing supporter of CPRE and worked with you on campaigns in the past. My support will be there for the future, too.
In terms of the policies on which you would like my support:

  • Challenging excessive housing targets set by central government: I have led the call for a moratorium on housebuilding on greenfield sites around Maidstone. It is quite clear that the housing targets are based on economics rather than need and that the housing needs of people will not be met by executive homes in the countryside but by affordable and social housing near jobs and transport links.
  • Protecting all of the Maidstone area’s countryside and open spaces: Absolutely!
  • Tackling the climate emergency: Your call for carbon neutrality by 2045 is far too late, this needs to be by 2030 and the Greens have the plans and political will to achieve this. The UN report last year stated that we need a 78 per cent reduction globally by 2030 and the UK needs to lead the way with this reduction.
  • A countryside for all of us: Absolutely. As well as accessibility, I want forest schools and for people of all ages to learn about nature.
  • Planning for communities: The planning framework needs a fundamental rewrite. There are plenty of brownfield sites for the type of homes that people need.
  • Creating thriving rural communities: Affordable homes and infrastructure are essential. We want digital access to rural areas, and public transport would receive the biggest investment under the Greens as it is the key mode of medium-distance transport for the future if we are to tackle climate change.

This constituency is not a marginal one and therefore every Green vote will send a clear message that Green politics, social justice, the strongest action on climate change and of course human and animal rights are essential.

Sonia Hyner, Green Party PPC for Rochester and Strood:

The Green Party is proud to be the party of the environment. We recognise that rural populations face the same social and economic pressures that are recognised among urban populations.

Tackle the climate emergency
Our plan for a Green New Deal will transform the UK and improve the quality of everyone’s lives by creating a safer, fairer future for all.
This is a comprehensive 10-year plan ambitious enough to tackle climate and ecological breakdown at the scale and speed set out by science. It will deliver a fast and fair transformation of our economy and society, renewing almost every aspect of life in the UK: from the way we produce and consume energy to the way in which we grow the food we eat, and how we work, travel and heat our homes.
As the originators of the Green New Deal, we are the only party you can trust to act in time to tackle the climate emergency and rapidly reduce social and economic inequality – and to make these our top priorities.
The Green New Deal will get the UK on track to reducing climate emissions to net zero by 2030 by:

  • Meeting most of our energy needs through the domestic production of renewable energy
  • Reducing overall energy demand from buildings and homes
  • Transforming UK industry, transport and land use

Promote a countryside for all of us
Green spaces can inspire children to be physically active and develop a passion for nature, encouraging them to learn more about the world around them. We would recognise access to diverse nature as a human right and uphold it across society.
We will create a Nature GCSE to encourage children to value nature and to grow a whole new generation of naturalists. We will also introduce an English Climate Emergency Education Act to support schools to teach young people about the urgency, severity and scientific basis of the climate and environmental crises, and to ensure youth voices are heard on climate issues.
We will open up car-free access to the National Parks with new cycling, walking and bus links. We would restore access to the countryside by reopening lost public rights of way and creating new ones. We will grant to people in England and Wales the same right to roam over all landscapes as people in Scotland currently enjoy.
Plan for communities
The Green Party will amend the National Planning Policy Framework so it no longer imposes centrally-set development targets on local councils. We will allow councils to develop their own planning policies, based on genuine local housing need and their requirement to contribute to the creation of at least 100,000 new council homes a year nationally. Councils will be required to balance this need with the need to preserve local ecology and the opportunity to create new green spaces.
We strongly support land designations which prevent inappropriate development on National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, natural habitats of local, regional, national or international importance, sites of special scientific or archaeological interest and ancient woodlands.
Create thriving rural communities
We will build 100,000 new energy-efficient council homes per year for the next 10 years, including in the countryside. We will allocate funding to local authorities for council home creation based on the needs of their area. We will incentivise local authorities to spread small developments across their areas, rather than building huge new estates, and to build, renovate and convert to high-quality designs that respect local architectural heritage. The new council homes will offer secure, lifetime tenancies.
Buses are a lifeline for millions and would be at the centre of our transport policy. We need to make using public transport as simple and straightforward as travelling by car. For too many people in the countryside there is no alternative to the car. Our national bus strategy would be focused on ensuring that it would be cheaper to travel by bus, tram or train than by car – we would do this by lowering fares and would use £3.5 billion per year to do this, funded by the cancellation of HS2.
Bus services must be planned around the needs of rural communities. Local councils would have responsibility the setting of routes, frequencies and fares for buses in their area, with residents fully consulted and involved in shaping these services. We would want to reopen rail lines and stations wherever possible.
The rural economy will face new challenges and opportunities in developing sustainable mixed land use, generating renewable power and in tourism. Better broadband for the countryside is essential. We will better connect rural communities through reliable broadband and mobile internet, delivered through councils who understand local connection needs.
The Green Party’s approach to the countryside is focused on the need to ensure the protection and sustainability of our most important asset. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain our approach to the issues you have raised and, if elected, I look forward to working with CPRE on our shared priorities.

Teresa Murray, Labour Party PCC for Rochester and Strood:

Thank you for contacting me with your views about the issue that is important for you in the General Election on December 12.
It is very helpful for me to understand what is important to those I hope to represent as a Labour MP for Rochester and Strood, but I am not signing any pledges before the election but am saving all of the emails and communications I have received.
It’s important to be honest and remind you that unless I am elected I will not be able to influence your issue or campaign at government level but am ensuring that the Labour Party is aware of the topics I am being contacted about.
I am pleased to say that most  of the issues are addressed by our costed manifesto pledges and the manifesto is easily available for you to read online at www.labourparty.org.uk
Labour’s manifesto will be transformative for Rochester and Strood because we are ideally placed both geographically and in terms of the skills base here to respond to Labour’s plans for investment in new green jobs and the public services which will help regenerate our towns and we’ll build the affordable homes people need in the right places as well as controlling the private rented sector.
Lots of you have asked me about Brexit and my personal stand. I voted Remain and respect the result of the 2016 referendum. However, I am comfortable with Labour’s position, which is to negotiate a deal that protects a sensible transition and jobs, then put that deal to the people with a summary of what it contains and a Remain option so that we can all be confident about what we are voting for and misinformation is eliminated.
If I am elected as your Labour MP, I will contact you again to explore how best to take forward the issues you and others have asked me to support. Here are the other most frequently raised topics:

  • Environmental protection and climate change
  • The NHS and treatment available for various serious conditions
  • Animal welfare and fox-hunting
  • Housing
  • Fair treatment for faith groups
  • WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) compensation
  • Schools, education and training
  • A variety of local issues about which I have provided specific responses

I am happy to come and talk to groups or to be contacted further.

April Clark, Green Party PCC for Tonbridge and Malling:

Thank you for your email. If I am elected, I would be delighted to meet CPRE Kent to discuss how we can meet the needs of local communities while enhancing the countryside for current and future generations to enjoy.
The Green Party is proud to be the party of the environment. We recognise that rural populations face the same social and economic pressures that are recognised among urban populations.

Regarding the CPRE manifesto topics:
Challenging excessive housing targets set by central government
We would amend the National Planning Policy Framework so it no longer imposes centrally-set development targets on local councils. We will allow councils to develop their own planning policies, based on genuine local housing need and their requirement to contribute to the creation of at least 100,000 new council homes a year nationally. Councils will be required to deliver these new homes in a way that preserves local ecology and creates new green spaces.
We also want to empower local authorities to bring empty homes back into use and create a total of 100,000 new homes for social rent (council homes) a year, built to the Passivhaus or equivalent standard. This standard will see these new homes use 90 per cent less energy for space heating than the average home, significantly reducing household bills.
Local authorities will be allocated funding for council home creation based on the needs of their area, and we will incentivise spreading small developments across their areas, rather than building huge new estates, and to build, renovate and convert to high-quality designs that respect local architectural heritage.
We will also ensure all new developments will be located and designed to ensure that residents do not need cars to live a full life, either having safe pedestrian access to local shops and schools, or are within 1km of a local rail, tube or tram station, or 500m of a high-frequency bus service.
Protecting all of the Tonbridge and Malling area’s countryside and open spaces
We believe we should encourage, through changes to the planning system, the ‘rewilding’ of spaces to provide new habitats for wildlife. An ecological crisis is happening – we must tackle it by restoring, expanding and joining up the wild spaces nature needs to thrive.
Our priorities will include strengthening Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest protections, with development in these areas only being permitted in exceptional circumstances.
We would ban mineral extraction, road-building and military training from all National Parks. We will give local communities a say in National Park governance, though creating new democratically elected positions on National Park boards.
We would also encourage applications from communities for new Green Belt, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Park designations.
Promote a countryside for all of us
Green spaces can inspxire children to be physically active and develop a passion for nature, encouraging them to learn more about the world around them. We would recognise access to diverse nature as a human right and uphold it across society.
We will create a Nature GCSE to encourage children to value nature and to grow a whole new generation of naturalists. We will also introduce an English Climate Emergency Education Act to support schools to teach young people about the urgency, severity and scientific basis of the climate and environmental crises, and to ensure youth voices are heard on climate issues.
We will open up car-free access to the National Parks with new cycling, walking and bus links. We would restore access to the countryside by reopening lost public rights of way and creating new ones. We will grant to people in England and Wales the same right to roam over all landscapes as people in Scotland currently enjoy.
Plan for communities
The Green Party will amend the National Planning Policy Framework so it no longer imposes centrally-set development targets on local councils. We will allow councils to develop their own planning policies, based on genuine local housing need and their requirement to contribute to the creation of at least 100,000 new council homes a year nationally. Councils will be required to balance this need with the need to preserve local ecology and the opportunity to create new green spaces.
We strongly support land designations which prevent inappropriate development on National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, natural habitats of local, regional, national or international importance, sites of special scientific or archaeological interest and ancient woodlands.
Create thriving rural communities
We will build 100,000 new energy-efficient council homes per year for the next 10 years, including in the countryside. We will allocate funding to local authorities for council home creation based on the needs of their area. We will incentivise local authorities to spread small developments across their areas, rather than building huge new estates, and to build, renovate and convert to high-quality designs that respect local architectural heritage. The new council homes will offer secure, lifetime tenancies.
Buses are a lifeline for millions and would be at the centre of our transport policy. We need to make using public transport as simple and straightforward as travelling by car. For too many people in the countryside there is no alternative to the car. Our national bus strategy would be focused on ensuring that it would be cheaper to travel by bus, tram or train than by car – we would do this by lowering fares and would use £3.5 billion per year to do this, funded by the cancellation of HS2.
Bus services must be planned around the needs of rural communities. Local councils would have responsibility the setting of routes, frequencies and fares for buses in their area, with residents fully consulted and involved in shaping these services. We would want to reopen rail lines and stations wherever possible.
The rural economy will face new challenges and opportunities in developing sustainable mixed land use, generating renewable power and in tourism. Better broadband for the countryside is essential. We will better connect rural communities through reliable broadband and mobile internet, delivered through councils who understand local connection needs.
The Green Party’s approach to the countryside is focused on the need to ensure the protection and sustainability of our most important asset.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain our approach to the issues you have raised and, if elected, I look forward to working with CPRE on our shared priorities.

Clear and simple: our message for the next government, whoever it may be

Well, it’s almost upon us!
We speak, naturally, of the General Election (on Thursday, December 12, should you have forgotten).
You shouldn’t be surprised to know that CPRE has been well prepared for this and we have already placed our manifesto on this website.
However, you can never (well, rarely) state your ambitions too often, so here are some graphics that show succinctly and precisely what we would like to see from the next government in relation to our rural environment.
Please do feel free to share far and wide.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Nothing quite like it… the CPRE Kent AGM

Always a highlight for members across the county: the AGM
Chairman John Wotton is invariably an engaging speaker
Chief executive Crispin Truman gave the talk CPRE and the Future for our Countryside

Almost 70 members and supporters gathered at Lenham Community Centre on Friday (November 22) for CPRE Kent’s AGM.
Sadly, our president Graham Clarke couldn’t make the event and delight us with his wonderful poems and anecdotes, but we were more than compensated for with a richly varied and engaging series of presentations.
County director Hilary Newport delivered her annual report, chairman John Wotton gave a thought-provoking talk and vice-president Richard Knox-Johnston presented The Climate Change Challenge… but not before guest speaker Crispin Truman, CPRE chief executive, had updated us on progress made by the national organisation.
Such events wouldn’t be the treasure they are without fine food and drink, of course, and most indulged in a splendid lunch and no small amount of conversation to round off a thoroughly satisfactory event.
Minutes of the meeting will appear on this website soon, but in the meantime you can enjoy the presentations here:
Director’s Report
Chairman’s Talk  
Chief Executive’s Speech
The Climate Change Challenge

Monday, November 25, 2019

Kent Voice: read it here!

The latest edition of Kent Voice (Autumn-Winter 2019/20) is out now. Lucky members have already received theirs in the post, but you don’t have to miss out as you can read it here!
Passivhaus, a district chairman’s comparison of two counties (one of them of course being Kent) and a colourful reflection on CPRE Kent’s 90th birthday… they’re all in there, along with your regular favourites and so much more.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Our countryside matters to those who vote. Politicians please take note!

Beautiful, isn’t it! Unsurprisingly, voters (that’s people, incidentally) want it kept that way

Countryside-loving millennials could swing the general election in favour of the political party that has policies most likely to protect and enhance the countryside, according to CPRE.
For those who don’t know (and we suspect it’s more than many media outlets realise), millennials are widely defined as those born between 1981 and 1996. Or, to put it another way, those who are now in their 20s and 30s.
A poll commissioned by this charity reveals that:
• Overall, 60 per cent of people said they would be more likely to vote for a political party that wants to protect and enhance the countryside, including the Green Belt, and just 1 per cent said they would be less likely
• On the same question, 71 per cent of people aged 25-34 felt strongly about this
• Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of 35- to 44-year-olds and 57 per cent of 45- to 54-year-olds said policies relating to the countryside would affect their decision in the polling booth
• Regionally, Londoners feel particularly strongly about protecting and enhancing our green spaces, with 73 per cent saying this mattered to them when deciding who to vote for
The research was published on the same day as CPRE’s countryside manifesto, which includes 12 recommendations for how the next government can harness the potential of the countryside to promote a healthier economy and happier communities.
Crispin Truman, CPRE chief executive, said: “This research turns long-held assumptions on their heads, with millennials and Londoners being most likely to vote with the countryside in mind.
“More and more young people are aware of the need to invest in their health and well-being, which is something that the countryside can deliver.
“And, perhaps unsurprisingly, Londoners, who are arguably most in need of time in nature, are more likely than any other region to vote with policies to protect green spaces in mind.
“But more than that, the survey results show overwhelmingly that protecting and enhancing the countryside is an issue that resonates with people of all ages and in all regions.
“It shows that countryside issues could be one of the deciding factors in determining which political party forms the next government.
“CPRE therefore urges all political parties to put measures to protect and enhance our countryside front and centre of their manifestos to ensure that our treasured landscapes will be available for now and future generations to come.”

Monday, November 18, 2019