Protect our Green Belt

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.

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May 15th 2017

CPRE Kent response to Medway Local Plan

CPRE Kent is calling for a commitment to improve the environment and community health as well as save valuable farmland in its response to the Medway Local Plan consultation.

Allhallows Marshes by Amanda Slater

Allhallows Marshes by Amanda Slater

We will be asking Medway Council to:

  • recognise the contribution of agricultural land to local sustainability, and invest in improving ecosystems for healthy communities, well-being and resilience;
  • Include “access to nature” when planning growth;
  • enhance the understanding of biodiversity conservation across whole landscapes;
  • make adaption to climate change a priority;
  • proactively assess underused or vacant sites (especially brownfield) that might contribute to regeneration or meeting housing need, including small sites;
  • consider sustainability when assessing sites (such as the employment park at Kingsnorth on the Hoo Peninsula), including transport infrastructure and other services;
  • consider accessibility of local people to space and countryside;
  • ensure Green Belt is given the highest level of protection, as specified in the recent Housing White Paper;
  • continue with the designation of development gaps and areas of local landscape importance;
  • consider the impact on air quality of all development and associated travel.
  • Photo: diamond geezer

    Photo: diamond geezer

    Cycling on the Hoo Peninsula by Steve Cadman

    Cycling on the Hoo Peninsula by Steve Cadman

CPRE Kent Planner Jillian Barr said: “A strong and ambitious vision is necessary to deliver growth, protect the environment, but also to deliver improvements to the environment and community health. This is essential to Medway’s future. We are pleased that the council is consulting so thoroughly at this stage of the plan process and recognise that there are challenging targets. There is a proven link between access to nature, space, dark skies and tranquillity and the health of communities and we hope the council will take this fully on board now and when looking at sites over the next 18 years.”

CPRE Kent has now submitted its full response to the plan – read it here.

June 5th 2017

Night blight and dark skies – new maps launched

The most detailed ever satellite maps of England’s light pollution and dark skies, released today (13th June) by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), have shown that Thanet Earth is the second worst light polluter in the country, only second to Tata Steel in Rotherham. [1].

Night sky over Thanet, photo by Kimberley Eve

Night sky over Thanet, photo by Kimberley Eve

Overall, Kent is the 29th darkest county of 41. The maps, produced using satellite images captured at 1.30 am throughout September 2015, show that within Kent, Ashford has the darkest skies, 68th of 326 districts. Ashford Borough Council adopted a specific Dark Skies Policy in 2014 to raise awareness about ways we can minimise light pollution and to raise the profile of dark skies as an environmental asset we are increasingly at threat of losing. [2]

Dartford has Kent’s lightest skies, 260th of the 326 districts, of course this area has major transport networks, including the Dartford Crossing.

Thanet is 241st in the rankings, with 34% of its skies in the lightest categories. Thanet Earth pledged to improve its greenhouse blinds in 2013, yet the light emitted is still severe. [3] [4] Its maximum brightness value is 584.98nanowatts/cm2*sr, brighter than anywhere else in the South East, including London.

Thanet Earth by Craig Solly 1

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Thanet Earth, photos by Craig Solly

Thanet Earth, photos by Craig Solly

The research comes at a time of increasing awareness of the harmful effects light pollution can have on the health of people and wildlife. That these skies were monitored at 1.30am illustrates just how long into the night England’s lighting spills.

The new maps were produced by Land Use Consultants from data gathered by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in America. The NOAA satellite captured visible and infrared imagery to determine the levels of light spilling up into British skies. CPRE is sending lesson plans to primary schools in order to promote the enjoyment of dark skies.

We are calling on the county’s local authorities to use these maps to identify areas with severe light pollution and target action to reduce it, as well as identifying existing dark skies that need protecting.

 

Stars by Tone Netone

Stars by Tone Netone

Starry night by Ethan Sztular

Starry night by Ethan Sztular

CPRE Kent recommends that:

  • Local authorities follow Ashford’s lead and develop policies to reduce light pollution in their emerging local plans.
    The councils use CPRE’s maps to inform decisions on local planning applications and identify individual facilities that should be asked to dim or switch off unnecessary lights.
  • Local businesses review their current lighting and future development plans to save money by dimming or switching off light to reduce pollution as well as meet their promises over reducing existing pollution (e.g. Thanet Earth).

Hilary Newport, director of CPRE Kent said: “Our view of the stars is obscured by artificial light. Many children may not have seen the Milky Way, our own galaxy, due to the veil of light that spreads across their night skies. It is known that dark skies are beneficial to our wellbeing. Light pollution can disturb our sleep, prevent our enjoyment of the countryside and affect wildlife, by interrupting natural rhythms including migration, reproduction and feeding patterns.
“Councils can reduce light levels through better planning, and with investment in the right street lighting that is used only where and when it is needed.
“Our Night Blight maps also show where people can expect to find a truly dark, starry sky and we hope they will go out and enjoy the wonder of the stars.”

Summary of Kent districts (this information and more is available via the maps):

District Ranking out of 329 % in three darkest sky categories, less than 1 NanoWatts / cm2 / sr
Ashford 68 85
Tunbridge Wells 72 76
Shepway 99 74
Sevenoaks 101 47
Dover 106 66
Canterbury 112 78
Maidstone 116 55
Swale 137 47
Tonbridge and Malling 156 32
Medway 196 12
Gravesham 202 0.3
Thanet 241 8
Dartford 260 0

 

Notes:

[1] CPRE’s interactive maps can be accessed at http://nightblight.cpre.org.uk

Light pollution is a generic term referring to excess artificial light that shines where it is neither wanted nor needed. In broad terms, there are three types of light pollution:

  • skyglow – the pink or orange glow we see for miles around towns and cities, spreading deep into the countryside, caused by a scattering of artificial light by airborne dust and water droplets
  • glare – the uncomfortable brightness of a light source
  • light intrusion – light spilling beyond the boundary of the property on which a light is located, sometimes shining through windows and curtains
[2] http://www.ashford.gov.uk/dark-skies-spd-2014

[3] http://www.thanetearth.com/faqs-growing-using-light.html

[4] http://www.thanetgazette.co.uk/skies-Birchington-going-green/story-20253506-detail/story.html

June 13th 2016

Protect our dark skies

We have responded to Kent County Council’s consultation into street lighting.

There are three options proposed:

  • lights off for part of the night
  • all night lighting
  • 30-50% dimmed for part of the night

It is the (already agreed) conversion to LED technology that will make enormous savings. Savings from the different options are quite limited: part night lighting will save £400,000 and dimming £160,000. Dark skies as a benefit is therefore important.

 

Photo by Harriet RH

Photo by Harriet RH

We have said to KCC:

There have been many innovations in street lighting that are allowing KCC to cut energy bills by retrofitting lights with more energy efficient systems. CPRE Kent supports this approach, but encourages a continued reduction in light pollution. The promotion of dark skies improves the tranquillity enjoyed by many parts of the county at night. Dark skies should be a key characteristic of rural areas at night, but of course everyone benefits from better views of the night sky and connection with our natural environment.

Clearly consultation with local communities is important and risks (either perceived or real) associated with road safety and fear of crime may be concerns raised by some individuals and communities. Education and flexibility for emerging policy to respond to concerns may, therefore, be necessary. Of course, the ‘part-night lighting’ service currently in operation has given communities the information/experience necessary to comment and CPRE Kent hopes the feedback from this experience has been positive.

To read more about night blight click here.

December 1st 2015

Gift membership – perfect for Christmas

The gift of the countryside – you could not put a price on it; but you can help us protect it by buying a gift membership of CPRE Kent for friends or family this Christmas.

Forest snow scene by Chris Barnes

Forest snow scene by Chris Barnes

Not only will you and your loved one be supporting our campaigns to protect the beauty and tranquillity of the wonderful Kent countryside, but gift membership offers a lot more besides:

Gift membership 001 (003)

  • Kent Voice magazine – twice a year
  • Countryside Voice magazine – three times a year
  • Two for one or half price entry to homes and gardens across Kent and England for the whole household
  • Social programme of outings
  • Expert planning support
  • 10% discount at Cotswald Outdoors for the whole household
  • A special bonus for gift membership – wildflower seeds, a cute welly boot keyring and a wheelie bin pencil sharpener sent with the welcome pack
  • CPRE pin badge

Continue reading

CPRE Kent opposes significant development at Lydden Race Circuit

CPRE Kent is opposed to the planned erection of a huge redevelopment of Lydden Race Circuit including two hospitality buildings, two grandstands, administration facilities, engineering units and access road.

The application (DOV/15/00827) represents a significant and harmful intensification of use at this site, will be detrimental to landscape of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and will impact the well-being of communities and the quiet enjoyment of the countryside.

Apex festival at Lydden Race Circuit, photo Beetle Challenge, flickr

Apex festival at Lydden Race Circuit, photo Beetle Challenge, flickr

Rather than being restricted to race days the proposal would mean intensified daily use of the site for activities including driver tuition and testing, race days, craft fairs and car shows. This will mean persistent disturbance to nearby residents and a loss of tranquillity in the AONB.

The proposals include an extended car park and, together with better facilities, this would mean more visitors and hence more vehicle movements on rural lanes, causing further erosion of tranquillity. The additional activity is likely to cause traffic congestion with increased local air pollution. Continue reading

Submission to Airport Commission focuses on noise and tranquillity

CPRE Kent has made a submission to the Airports Commission consultation into a new runway at Gatwick or Heathrow, raising the issues of noise and tranquillity and pressure on the environment and infrastructure.

The consultation closed yesterday (3rd February) and the Commission will publish its report this summer.

In our submission, we have drawn on the devastating impacts of recent flight path alterations which have seen a concentration of flights over previously tranquil areas of west Kent.

“This has brought misery to many people living in west Kent,” said CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport. “The importance of tranquillity cannot be overstated – it is the main reason why people enjoy the countryside and can prevent stress and aid people’s enjoyment of exercise and play.”

London_Gatwick_Airport_(6555355805)wikki

Continue reading

Campaign Against Gatwick Expansion

CPRE Kent will be campaigning stongly against a new runway for Gatwick. The impact on Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and the Weald would be devastating – the noise, the loss of tranquillity in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the congestion and the pressure for more and more housing to cater for the 90,000 jobs which it claims would be created.

With two runways, Gatwick could handle 560,000 air traffic movements a year, compared to 250,000 a year at present. At busy times of day now aircraft take off or land at a rate of nearly one a minute – with a new runway it would be doubnearly two a minute.

“We do not have the road or rail capacity to cope with the additional passengers,” said CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport. “It could severely affect people’s quality of life in West Kent because of the additional noise, the congestion, the pressure to build on greenfield sites and the loss of tranquillity in some of our most beautiful areas.”

We believe there is enough existing runway capacity at British airports to accommodate the demand for flights. The South East also has excellent rail and ferry links to the continent and use of these should be maximised.

We also believe that to focus aviation growth on London, which already has so many runways, is wrong for the UK. It will cause great pressure to build on greenfield sites and it will reinforce the North South divide.

On November 22nd we joined colleagues from CPRE Sussex and CPRE Surrey at a Gatwick Campaign meeting, attended by all the interested parties including five MPs and many local councillors. We are heartened that the Leader of Kent County Council Paul Carter has now come out in opposition to the second runway and airport expansion because of the impact on people living in West Kent..

We will be lobbying MPs and councillors to oppose the plans. We will respond to the Airports Commission consultation paper. And we will continue to campaign against the noise and loss of tranquillity caused by damaging flight paths.

We will be working together with some of the many groups opposed to Gatwick:

Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC)

http://www.gacc.org.uk/

CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions) East based in the area around Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.

http://beagblog.wordpress.com/

http://www.cagne.org/

HWPAAG (The High Weald Parishes Aviation Action Group) consisting of eight parishes In the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty all adversely affected by aircraft noise. (Chiddingstone, Hever, Leigh and Penshurst Parish Councils)

Gatwick Obviously Not

http://www.gatwickobviouslynot.org/

WAGAN (Weald Action Group Against Noise)

http://www.sevenoakswealdpc.kentparishes.gov.uk/default.cfm?pid=4966

December 3rd 2014