Boosting hedgerows by 40 per cent would create 25,000 jobs, CPRE research reveals

The hedgerow network is our largest, most connected, ‘nature reserve (pic Julie Davies)
  • For every £1 invested in hedgerows, as much as £3.92 is generated for the wider economy, new research from CPRE, the countryside charity, has revealed
  • CPRE is calling on the government to stop dragging its feet and set a target to increase the hedgerow network by 40 per cent by 2050, which would be a win-win-win for climate, nature and the economy

Hedgerows could become champions of climate action and nature recovery while contributing tens of thousands of jobs to hard-hit communities, new analysis from CPRE, the countryside charity, has revealed.
The Climate Change Committee (CCC) recommends that the extent of our hedgerow network should be increased by 40 per cent to support the UK government’s goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
If the right hedgerows are planted in the right place, for every £1 invested in hedgerow planting, as much as £3.92 is generated in the wider economy.
Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, said: “It is almost impossible to define the enormous value of our hedgerow network – just as our arteries and veins supply our bodies with nutrients and oxygen, the UK’s hedgerow network defines many of our rural landscapes and must remain healthy to benefit  villages, towns and cities. Our research shows that investing in our hedgerows is a win-win for climate and people in both the countryside and urban areas.
“But we know the government has the biggest part to play in unleashing the full potential of hedgerows. That’s why we’re calling on ministers to set a target to increase the hedgerow network by 40 per cent by 2050 with improved protection for existing hedgerows.
In its expanse, the hedgerow network is our largest, most connected, ‘nature reserve’. Healthy hedgerows are teeming with life and vital for nature. One in nine of all vulnerable species in the UK are associated with hedgerows. These include the hazel dormouse; the hedgehog, whose decline has been closely associated with hedgerow loss; and the brown hairstreak butterfly, which lays its eggs on blackthorn and is particularly common in hedgerows.
Lord Deben, chair of the Climate Change Committee, said: “What was a determination to make land more productive in order to feed our people during and after the war has led to indiscriminate destruction of our hedgerows. Spurred on by Deficiency Payments and the Common Agricultural Policy, our yields rose and our wildlife diminished.
“Reintroduction and proper maintenance of hedgerows transforms the all too sterile prairie land into the countryside, which for long we have loved. But, as this report shows, this is not about romance – the hard facts are that hedges contribute to profit as well as to well-being.”
There is a parliamentary launch of our hedgerows campaign this afternoon, hosted by MP Selaine Saxby.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Join us for an evening of fun, creativity and hope in the face of the climate crisis… but be quick!

There are still tickets available for CPRE’s Hope for the Countryside event on Tuesday (September 7).
You can still join us for an evening full of fun, creativity and hope in the face of the climate crisis, either in person at Glaziers Hall, London Bridge SE1 9DD, or remotely via an interactive livestream. 
During the evening, we will hear from:  

•          Emma Bridgewater CBE, pottery designer and president of CPRE, explaining why we should have hope for our beautiful countryside 

•          Emma Marrington, who leads CPRE’s work on landscape enhancement, explaining why hedgerows are an important part of the solution to combat the climate emergency and nature’s decline 

•          Sarah Corbett, founder of the Craftivist Collective, who will talk about how protesting using crafts can have a positive and empowering impact on us as individuals and on our campaigning. During the craftivism workshop you will create a craft supplied by us, whether attending online or in person 

•          Crispin Truman OBE, CPRE’s chief executive, will explore other ways the countryside can tackle the climate emergency, providing many of the solutions to addressing climate breakdown  

•          Safia Minney, social entrepreneur, founder of People Tree and newly-appointed trustee of CPRE, will draw on her extensive experience to talk about how to build strong relationships to make change happen

How to book 
You can order your in-person or virtual ticket at www.cpre.org.uk/hope. Alternatively, call the supporter care team on 020 7981 2870. The deadline for online ticket purchases is Monday (September 6) to allow time to post the crafting kits. 

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Our open letter to government: heroic hedgerows and climate change

Hedgerows: the unsung heroes of our countryside (pic Julie Davies)

CPRE, the countryside charity, has joined with other major charities to call for urgent action to extend the country’s hedgerows by 40% by 2050 to protect nature and help tackle the climate crisis.
Our humble hedgerows are the unsung heroes of the countryside. They have been adding beauty and character to our landscapes for centuries while providing the food and shelter that sustains our wildlife. They protect the soil, clean the air and absorb carbon emissions.
But we have lost about half since 1945. Now, as we face up to the climate emergency, we urgently need to start reversing that decline – and allow our hedgerows to play their most important role yet.
That is why we have launched our #40by50 campaign, calling on ministers to commit to extending the hedgerow network by 40% by 2050, as recommended by the independent Climate Change Committee, and have written to the government to this effect, as published in The Times last month.
Our open letter calling on the government to do more to extend hedgerows reads as follows:

Hedgerows: the climate and nature heroes

Tree planting and peatland restoration are important parts of the government’s plan to tackle the climate and nature emergencies. Yet there is still one powerful solution missing from its strategy: the humble hedgerow.
Hedgerows are the unsung heroes of our countryside. They are icons of our landscape, steeped in history, providing a haven for wildlife while absorbing carbon emissions. The hedgerow network, in its expanse, is our largest ‘nature reserve’. Shockingly, it is estimated that more than half our hedgerows have been lost since WW2, and many existing hedgerows are in a poor, degraded state.
The Climate Change Committee recommends extending the hedgerow network by 40% by 2050 to help achieve net-zero. Ahead of COP26, now is the time for Ministers to show real leadership by committing to this target, while restoring our existing hedgerow network, to deliver a more resilient, beautiful and biodiverse countryside.
Yours,
Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity
Dawn Varley, chief executive, Badger Trust
Kit Stoner, chief executive, Bat Conservation Trust
Anita Konrad, chief executive, Campaign for National Parks
Mark Bridgeman, president, Country Land and Business Association
Lizzie Glithero-West, chief executive, Heritage Alliance
John Sauven, executive director, Greenpeace
Shaun Spiers, executive director, Green Alliance
Hilary McGrady, director-general, National Trust
Jill Nelson, chief executive, People’s Trust for Endangered Species
Emma Marsh, director, RSPB England
Sara Lom, chief executive, The Tree Council
Craig Bennett, chief executive, The Wildlife Trusts
Richard Benwell, chief executive, Wildlife & Countryside Link
Dr Darren Moorcroft, chief executive, Woodland Trust

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Climate change, energy efficiency and traditional buildings: talk will focus on this important subject

The Archbishop’s Palace in Charing

Kent’s architectural heritage is as rich as that in any county in the land, but how can we make our traditional buildings more energy-efficient in the battle against climate change?
One of the leading authorities in the country will be exploring the subject at a meeting hosted by CPRE Kent next month.
John Preston IHBC is heritage chair of the Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance and will be giving the talk Climate Change and Older Buildings – Meeting The Challenges? at Charing Barn on Friday, March 13.
The meeting, which begins at 4pm, is open to all and free to attend, but donations to CPRE Kent will be welcome.
If you would like to join us for what is certain to be a fascinating and thought-provoking talk, please let us know at info@cprekent.org.uk or phone 01233 714540.

  • Climate Change and Older Buildings – Meeting the Challenges? Friday, March 13, 4pm, at Charing Barn, The Market Place, Charing, Ashford  TN27 0LP

Climate change rally in London: your chance to join thousands of others in getting the message to MPs

The song remains the same: thousands marched at the climate change rally in London in 2015 (pic Campaign Against Climate Change)

Some 10,000 people are expected at Westminster this week (Wednesday, June 26) to call for urgent action on climate change. Do you want to join them?
The rally has been organised by Greener UK and The Climate Coalition, which says: “The government has taken a step forward by setting the long-term target of ending our contribution to climate change, but we need policies to get us on track and slash our emissions now.
“To tackle the environmental crisis, we also need our politicians to pass a strong Environment Bill that can restore nature, cut plastic pollution and improve air quality.
“We need as many people as possible showing their MPs that now is the time for bold action.
“On June 26, thousands of us from every corner of Britain will take our message straight to Parliament in what we hope will be the largest mass lobby for climate and the environment the UK has ever seen.”
The Campaign Against Climate Change adds: “Around 10,000 are expected to gather in Westminster, in groups with others from their constituency. It’s an opportunity to talk to your MP and demonstrate that their constituents are calling for urgent action on climate change!”
Many will be going to the rally, labelled The Time Is Now and which runs from 1pm-4pm, as individuals, families and friends, but many organisations and charities are taking part, among them CPRE.
The CPRE website has a form, which you can fill in here if you would like to go.
This will give an idea of how many people are going and from which district.
CPRE has clarified the aims of the rally on its website:
“The Time Is Now as a group will be calling on government to:
“Commit to a target of reaching ‘net-zero’ carbon emissions by 2045. This is the technical way of saying we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to a level where the UK no longer contributes to climate change.
“Bring in legally binding targets for nature’s recovery, focusing on important things like clean air, waste and resources, soil, water quality and biodiversity.
“We’ll also be raising other issues with MPs, such as opposing the government’s proposals to fast-track fracking and making sure new homes are built to be energy efficient.”
We are encouraging as many people as possible to be at Westminster on Wednesday; we have CPRE Kent signs here at the office if you would like to take them (phone 01233 714540).
Further, it would be helpful if you could share this story on Facebook and Twitter.

  • For more on the rally, visit here, here and here  
  • To fill in the CPRE form confirming your attendance at The Time Is Now, click here  

Monday, June 24, 2019

Climate change? No problem, apparently, in government push to further develop Thames estuary

The proposed Lower Thames Crossing is intended to fuel urban growth in the estuary

The government’s backing of proposals to target the Thames estuary for massive development flies in the face of wider calls to tackle climate change, says Hilary Newport, director of CPRE Kent.
In June last year the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission published a report calling for the building of more than a million homes and the creation of 1.3 million new jobs in east London, Essex and Kent.
The commission, an advisory body to the government that was announced in the 2016 Budget and tasked to “develop an ambitious vision and delivery plan for north Kent, south Essex and east London up to 2050”, had also urged that ‘joint spatial plans’ be created in both Essex and Kent, which it said should take more of London’s housing need.
It also called for greater strategic planning and the creation of development corporations “with planning, and compulsory purchase powers to drive the delivery of homes and jobs aligned to major infrastructure investment”.
Responding in March this year, James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, stressed his support for the commission’s recommendations.
“The Thames estuary has long been a gateway to the UK economy and has enormous untapped potential, which has the power to benefit those that live and work in the area,” he announced.
“Having considered the recommendations of the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission, I have announced a number of steps we are taking to unlock an even brighter future for the estuary’s economy, marking the beginning of a new and bolder approach by this government to support the area.”
He said government “expects all local authorities to plan for the number of homes required to meet need in their area” and “would encourage cooperation between the London boroughs and neighbouring authorities in Kent and Essex and welcome further engagement with those places, including with groups of London boroughs, in exploring how we might support them to plan for and deliver significant increases in the provision of homes”.
The government is also “committed to exploring the potential for at least two new locally-led development corporations in the Thames estuary”, “subject to suitable housing ambition from local authorities, and we encourage local areas in the estuary to come forward with such proposals”.
The response included a commitment of £1 million to establish a Thames Estuary Growth Board to “oversee and drive economic growth plans for the area” and £4.85 million “to support local partners to develop low-cost proposals for enhancing transport services” between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet.
The wish to impose high levels of growth on an already desperately overcrowded part of the country is alarming and of course would entail substantially expanded infrastructure, most contentiously a Lower Thames Crossing, a road that would exacerbate traffic congestion in north-west Kent, according to  Alex Hills, chairman of Dartford and Gravesham CPRE.
“The A227 section that runs from the A20 to the A2 and that paces through Vigo, Culverstone, Meopham and Istead Rise is facing a massive increase in traffic,” he said.
“With 3,000 houses planned for Borough Green and Gravesham Borough Council pressing to build on Green Belt in the area, this road already faces a huge hike in traffic. A new Thames crossing would drastically increase it yet further. Highways England has admitted that the new crossing will increase the traffic using the A227.”
Hilary Newport, CPRE Kent director, concurred: “A new crossing, should it be built, is projected to reduce traffic flows at Dartford by a pitifully low 22 per cent. That is a minuscule benefit, but the environmental and community harm caused by the biggest UK road project since the building of the M25 would be substantial.
“A new crossing would be all about intensifying overcrowding in the South East and opening up countryside development. It is now beyond dispute that increasing road capacity results in more vehicle journeys – we cannot build our way out of congestion.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that we need to take immediate action to curb catastrophic climate change, yet here we are stuck with the government’s obsession with a new Thames crossing to help pave the way for colossal levels of business-as-usual development.
“To say the government’s focus on new road capacity is out of date is to hugely understate the problem. Rather than investing solely in new roads, it should be promoting better public transport links, rationalising the over-reliance on road-based freight movement and supporting planning policies that support walking and cycling.”
The revised focus on the estuary comes after the previously mooted Thames Gateway project stalled, partly through a downturn in the economy and partly through the ditching by the coalition government, which came to power in 2010, of regional planning.
Now, perhaps ironically, there are concerns among some in the planning world that local authorities in north Kent have not engaged in joint strategic planning in the same manner as their counterparts in south Essex and the capital.
Six local authorities in south Essex have come together with their county council to form the Association of South Essex Local Authorities and pledged to prepare a joint plan.
Catriona Riddell, of the Planning Officers Society, which represents local-authority planners, said: “I think the south Essex part of the Thames estuary is way ahead of the game in terms of what it’s doing on strategic planning.
“The London Plan will cover the London bit of the estuary and you’ve got the south Essex joint plan being prepared. You’re going to have to have something in north Kent. You can’t have two out of three areas doing formal joint strategic planning without north Kent doing the same. That is a big hole at the moment.”
She says north Kent authorities have not worked together partly because of lack of agreement about whether a strategic plan should cover the whole of the county or just the northern part focused on the estuary.
“I suspect they will have to think quite quickly now because of the government’s response,” she said. “I don’t think they will have much leeway in terms of not doing something.”
Stuart Irvine, of planning consultancy Turley, added that the growth board would have influence with government, which could sway spending decisions. “It does potentially have the ear of government, which could be useful from a financial and infrastructure perspective,” he said.
“That could have a big influence on how Kent’s planning authorities choose to behave. If funding is channelled through the growth board, I think north Kent will have no choice but to change direction towards the Thames estuary.”
Some see the introduction of a growth board and emphasis on strategic plans as a renewed willingness by government to embrace regional planning again.
“We’ve got a similar approach being taken on the Cambridge-Oxford corridor,” said Thames Estuary Commission chairman John Armitt. “You need to look at it on that regional level.”
And at last year’s Conservative Party conference, planning minister Kit Malthouse said government wanted local authorities to come together in “regional groupings” and prepare strategic plans in return for Whitehall infrastructure cash.
Ms Riddell is not convinced, however, stressing that fewer than half of the councils in the Thames estuary would be represented on the new growth board.
“I find it really ironic that they abolished regional strategies and assembles because they were apparently unaccountable,” she says. “They’re reinventing regional planning but with less accountability and political representation than we had in 2010.”
Similarly, CPRE Kent’s Hilary Newport believes the future of the Thames estuary needs broader consideration.
“Sustainable transport should be prioritised over new road-building,” she said.
“If growth in the estuary is to continue, we need significant investment in the area’s public transport, walking and cycling options.
“As CPRE’s policy on transport makes clear, we need to manage our existing road network better, rather than expand it. As such, we would prefer investment in the estuary’s railway network, such as an extension to Crossrail, to be prioritised over the building of a Lower Thames road crossing.”
As for the push to focus development on the estuary, Mrs Newport said: “There needs to be wide-scale public engagement and consultation on the overall growth proposals, allowing alternative options to be considered before policy decisions are made.
“We believe that there should urgently be a full Parliamentary Select Committee Inquiry into the proposals, to look at the potential impact on both the local environment and on the economies of more deprived regions in England.”

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Communities help to plan low carbon future

Local communities have a new way to help the country meet its obligation to tackle climate change, following this month’s approval of the historic Paris Agreement [1]. With the need to develop a genuinely sustainable energy system more pressing than ever, a new consultation tool  published today [30 November] lets towns, villages and neighbourhoods shape their own genuinely sustainable local energy plans.

Published by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) and CPRE, it aims to bring communities together to share their passion for local landscapes with their enthusiasm for a more sustainable future.

energy-image-from-cpredscf1051

CSE and CPRE’s new ‘Future Energy Landscapes’ approach shows that putting local people at the centre of energy planning can result in ambitious vision and targets. Through a series of participatory workshops, with visual tools and consumption calculations, communities are empowered to combine their understanding and views of their landscape with planning for energy needs Together, local planners and communities can create robust energy strategies that could deliver radical reductions in carbon emissions and enjoy genuine local backing. Continue reading

Yet another dash to frack…

Hard on the heels of the UKOOG report published last week, the Lords Economic Affairs Committee (here) today also calls for the UK to speed up the exploitation of its shale gas reserves, again highlighting the potential benefits to the economy and down-playing the risk of harm to the environment. Much less emphasis is being placed on the need to ensure the safety of the process and very little is being placed on the down-side of diverting attention from the need to develop a safe, cost-effective renewable energy regime which will help break us from our addiction to fossil fuels.

It’s ironic that on the very same day Lloyds of London have published a report which highlights the increasing costs to the insurance industry of more frequent severe weather events such as storms and flooding – it seems clear that increasing our reliance on fossil fuels will have economic consequences that are by no means wholly positive.
(Image from Wikipedia)