CPRE, the countryside charity, says the prime minister’s “green industrial revolution” aimed at tackling climate change and creating jobs in such industries as nuclear energy, has missed the vital role played by nature. Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan was announced yesterday (Tuesday, November 17), with the headline statement being that cars and vans powered wholly by petrol or diesel will not be sold in this country from 2030. Tom Fyans, CPRE campaigns and policy director, however, has highlighted the lack of emphasis on the natural environment. He said: “Nature should be playing a starring role in tackling the climate emergency alongside the rapid carbon emissions cuts in our transport, energy, homes and food. “While new technology is rightly being rolled out across the country to slash emissions, the government should also be getting back to basics and harnessing the potential of the countryside to soak up carbon emissions and prevent runaway climate change. “Hedgerows, peatlands, trees, grasslands and many other parts of our countryside store vast amounts of carbon. It’s no wonder peatlands are seen as the UK’s rainforest when, in their natural state, they safely lock away over three billion tonnes of carbon. “MPs will be debating a long-awaited ban on the burning of moorlands hours after the launch of the prime minister’s 10-point plan. It’s never been clearer that more needs to be done to grab the low-hanging fruit that are nature-based solutions and end our contribution to the climate emergency. “The prime minister is absolutely right that action to tackle climate change should boost economic growth and benefit communities right across the country. “It is encouraging to see the renewed focus on energy efficiency for existing homes. It is now more important than ever that new schemes aimed to reduce our emissions also improve people’s lives by tackling fuel poverty and poor air quality and improve public transport and access to nature and green space. “It’s time for government to step up and deliver real action to tackle the climate emergency.” Some £4 billion has been earmarked for the plan – a total that has been criticised by some commentators as too small a figure. The BBC has listed the 10 points as follows: Offshore wind: Produce enough offshore wind to power every home in the UK, quadrupling how much it produces to 40 gigawatts by 2030, and supporting up to 60,000 jobs. Hydrogen: Have five gigawatts of “low carbon” hydrogen production capacity by 2030 – for industry, transport, power and homes – and develop the first town heated by the gas by the end of the decade. Nuclear: Pushing nuclear power as a clean energy source and including provision for a large nuclear plant, as well as for advanced small nuclear reactors, which could support 10,000 jobs. Electric vehicles: Phasing out sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and investing in grants to help buy cars and charge point infrastructure. Public transport, cycling and walking: Making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel and investing in zero-emission public transport for the future. Jet zero and greener maritime: Supporting research projects for zero-emission planes and ships. Homes and public buildings: Making homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient, including a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028. Carbon capture: Developing world-leading technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere, with a target to remove 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030 – equivalent to all emissions of the industrial Humber. Nature: Protecting and restoring the natural environment, with plans to include planting 30,000 hectares of trees a year. Innovation and finance: Developing cutting-edge technologies and making the City of London the global centre of green finance.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.”
We must protect our Green Belt for future generations. It prevents urban sprawl as well as providing countryside for recreation and relaxation, tranquillity, important habitats and areas for nature, the environment and farming.
Much of west Kent is Green Belt – in fact it covers 93% of Sevenoaks, 77% of Gravesham, 71% of Tonbridge and Malling, 56% of Dartford and 22% of Tunbridge Wells.
Strengthening the protection for Green belts and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty is an important point in our 2017 election manifesto. Have a look at the video below to see how much the Green Belt is loved.