CPRE Kent, lockdown and the natural beauty all around us

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This red admiral alighted just long enough for a CPRE Kent staff member to capture an image… we don’t have to look very far to enjoy nature

As we write, England has been in ‘lockdown’ for more than a week. It is an extraordinarily testing time and everyone involved with CPRE Kent hopes you are keeping safe and well.
The restrictions on travel that have justifiably and correctly been placed on us all in a bid to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus are doubtless taking their toll, to varying degrees, on people across the county.
Certainly, access to the countryside that we love and cherish has diminished drastically. Sadly, for many, there is quite simply no realistic access to the woods, marshes, downs, beaches and rural highways and byways that we find so uplifting.
However, there is natural beauty around us wherever we are.
We appreciate that might not always be instantly apparent – the countryside is out of reach for many. But look outside. Spring is upon us and soon the annual riot of colour that brings will be exploding into its full glory. You will see (and hear) birds. Butterflies and bees are on the wing. You might have foxes or hedgehogs visiting your garden. The list is endless.
Hopefully, there is green space near enough for you to visit. That public park you once took for granted has never meant more!
And, as we take the daily exercise that we are permitted, we will walk down different tracks, paths and roads and discover places on our doorsteps that we didn’t know existed. All of us will get to know where we live just a little better.
We can’t deny, though, that some of our favourite places are effectively out of bounds for the time being. However, those places will still be there when this crisis is over – we will return and surely delight in them more. And CPRE Kent will be here doing all we can to keep them safe.
The spread of Covid-19 is an awful, horrible thing that is bringing personal tragedy to families across the country, but there has never been a better time to take stock of what we hold dear and the things in which we believe.
We all need countryside close by, whether that’s protected landscape in the form of Green Belt or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or simply a collection of farms or stretch of undeveloped land between towns. Or, yes, the local park or green.
That proximity to open space should be a basic right of every citizen in England, whatever their circumstances, whether in city, town, suburb or country.
So we ask you to join us in taking a walk, slipping on the running trainers or hopping on your bike to savour the natural treasures around you while keeping your health and fitness in as fine shape as reasonably possible.
You might also choose to enjoy the lack of planes in the sky or the fewer cars, trucks and lorries around you – our air quality has not been this good in years.
Over the coming weeks, CPRE Kent will be demonstrating a slight change of emphasis. We’re aware the threats to our countryside won’t go away – and we will stay vigilant – but this is a time to celebrate the joys of landscape and nature and to stress their value to every single one of us.
We will do that through our website and via social media. We have plenty of thoughts of our own, but this is an evolving process and we would love to hear your ideas.
Please phone us on 01233 714540, email david.mairs@cprekent.org.uk or contact us via Facebook or Twitter.
In the meantime, please keep safe. This crisis will end and we can all play our part in bringing that about sooner rather than later.
We will leave you with some words from our friends at CPRE Hampshire:
“If you’re able to get out in nature, in a way that keeps you and others around you safe, take some time to appreciate the beautiful things we’re all working to protect.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

How the coronavirus crisis is hitting rural communities: letter goes to government

Countryside living can appear idyllic, but rural issues are being exacerbated by the pandemic

The specific impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on rural communities have been highlighted in a letter to government.
Addressed to George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the letter is signed by the chairs of ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), Plunkett Foundation, Rural Services Network and the Rural Coalition, of which CPRE is a member.
It says: “Communities and individuals everywhere are affected, in cities, towns and villages, but we thought it might be helpful to share with you some of the particular impacts on rural communities and where help is needed.
“We would urge you, as part of your rural affairs brief, to ensure that your colleagues across government take account of the rural dimension in both tackling the virus and in the mitigating measures.”
Subjects covered include the economic impact on high streets in rural towns, on tourism and leisure businesses and on workers whose employment is often seasonally related and linked to the land.
The potential social, mental-health and well-being effects on people in the countryside, some of whom are socially isolated anyway, are also put into focus.
Hilary Newport, CPRE Kent director, said: “When a village hall, pub or shop has to close, the village loses a lifeline.”

  • To read the letter to the Secretary of State, click here

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Let’s all look out for each other: a message from CPRE’s chief executive

Crispin Truman: ‘We are committed to doing our bit’

The coronavirus outbreak brings with it unprecedented challenges for organisations and individuals alike. Our first thoughts, of course, are with all those infected by the virus, and their loved ones.
For us as CPRE, the countryside charity, the welfare of our staff and volunteers is paramount. That’s why our staff are working from home for the foreseeable future and all CPRE meetings and events, nationally and locally, that were due to take place over the coming months have been postponed, or are taking place online. We are committed to doing our bit to help slow the spread of the virus.
But we are still here and working for our vision of a thriving beautiful countryside. We at CPRE are rapidly reviewing our plans for 2020 in light of the coronavirus outbreak. We’re determined to find new and creative ways to help our members, supporters and volunteers through this difficult time.
With Public Health England advising us all to avoid unnecessary physical contact, vulnerable people living in rural communities – including more elderly people – are of particular concern to CPRE.
Through small acts of kindness, whether it be a kind message or a phone call to someone you know is in need, we will be able to ease the burden on those most vulnerable and support each other through the coming months. Let’s all look out for each other.
With best wishes to you and your loved ones,
Crispin Truman OBE
chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

CPRE Kent: statement on coronavirus

CPRE Kent headquarters at Charing (pic Google)

CPRE Kent has considered its position after government advice on the coronavirus pandemic and will be keeping its Charing office open with a skeleton staff.
Remaining staff members will be working remotely until further notice. Any changes to the situation will be communicated via this website and our social media outlets (Facebook and Twitter).
We wish you all peace, health and safety during this difficult time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020