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24th Jun 2019 £12.8BN NEEDED EVERY YEAR TO END THE HOUSING CRISIS

New research from the National Housing Federation reveals that the Government must invest £12.8bn a year to finally end the housing crisis in England.

Over ten years, this investment would kick start a nationwide housebuilding programme of around 1.45 million social homes to rent and shared ownership properties to buy across the country. It would stimulate the economy and help more buyers to get on the housing ladder, and ensure that millions of people no longer get stuck in inappropriate homes or on the streets. 

Now, a coalition of housing groups and charities, including CPRE, is calling for the Government to make this significant investment as the only way to end the housing crisis, since the private market alone cannot build the quantities or types of homes the country needs. 

Over the course of ten years, this Government investment would amount to £146bn, including inflation. This would cover about 44% of the total cost of this construction boom, unlocking the rest of the money which can then be raised from other sources.  

The research also finds that investing in new homes would add an additional £120bn to the economy each year, through the creation of local jobs in construction and other industries across the country. Effectively, every pound spent by the Government would generate at least £5, boosting the economy in a balanced and sustainable way.

It would also reduce the Government’s benefit bill over the course of the decade. Last year, the Government paid £22.3bn in housing benefit, a significant amount of which went into the pockets of private landlords to help cover rent for millions of low-income tenants. By moving many of these tenants into social housing, the Government would need to spend less on housing benefit over time, and so could save taxpayers tens of millions of pounds every year. This would also allow more people to build a solid foundation for their lives in social housing, aiding social mobility.

This new financial modelling is based on research, conducted by Heriot Watt University for the National Housing Federation and the homelessness charity Crisis, which showed that England needs to build 145,000 social homes every year for the next decade to clear the current backlog of people who need a home and meet future demand. 

Last year the Government spent £1.27bn on affordable housing, making housing one of the smallest government budgets, down 70% on 2010 levels. As a result, far fewer social rented homes are being built. In 2017/18, just 5,400 were built, compared to almost 36,000 in 2010/11 before funding was cut.

The chronic under-investment in housing has led to a 169% increase in rough sleeping, while the number of households in temporary accommodation is at a 10-year high. What’s more, 1.3 million children are currently living in poverty in expensive privately rented accommodation, while many young people are stuck at home with their parents, unable to build an independent life and start families of their own. 

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “The housing crisis is an economic, social and human catastrophe. But it can be solved. And now, for the first time, we know exactly how much it will cost. By investing £12.8bn in affordable housing every year for the next decade, the Government can ensure millions of people have a stable and affordable place to live, at the same time as strengthening the economy across the country.

“By investing this money in affordable housing at the upcoming spending review, the Government can help families all across the country to flourish. They can help children get out of poverty, give young voters a foot up on the housing ladder and help out private renters who have to empty their bank account every month.

“As well as being the right thing to do, investing to end the housing crisis also carries huge economic benefits. It will advance the country’s productivity, boost its economic growth and lower the benefit bill over time.”

Crispin Truman, Chief Executive at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Everyone needs a secure, stable and affordable place to live, but right now there are more than 170,000 families in rural communities, who are on social housing waiting lists. At the current rate of building, it would take 130 years just to meet this backlog.

“Just like our towns and cities, communities in the countryside need a healthy mix of homes in order to prosper, including homes for social rent. These offer long term stability to families on lower incomes in rural areas, where life is more expensive and work can often be insecure and seasonal. They allow people to put down roots and plan for the future.

“Councils and housing associations can play a key role in building the homes the nation needs, but only if they are properly funded. This investment in homes for social rent and other low cost tenures would help to guarantee the future prosperity of our rural communities, and society as a whole.”

For further information please contact: Andrew Carruthers, Press Officer, National Housing Federation: andrew.carruthers@housing.org.uk or visit: www.housing.org.uk

30th May 2019 Local charities could receive £1 billion in deposits from cans and bottles

CPRE survey shows 20% of people would donate deposits to charity with a deposit return system

One in five people (20%) using a UK-wide deposit return system would donate deposits they’d paid on drinks cans and bottles to charity all of the time, according to a new survey carried out by ICM Unlimited and published today (30 May) by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) [1]. This could result in annual donations of more than £1 billion to good causes [2].

A further 19% of respondents said they would donate their deposits most of the time, and more than a third (34%) would donate at least some of the time. This could lead to a further £1.3 billion in donations to local charitable causes from the deposits on glass and plastic drinks bottles and aluminium cans, the analysis by CPRE found [3]. The donations could be even higher if drinks cartons and pouches are also included in England’s deposit system – something which Environment Secretary Michael Gove is currently considering.
 
The countryside charity states that by including an option for the public to donate their deposits – something that is part of most other deposit systems around the world – we could build on the huge success of the carrier bag charge, which, as well as reducing plastic bag usage by over 80%, raised £66 million for good causes in 2016/17 [4]. 
 
Samantha Harding, litter programme director at CPRE, said: 
‘Not only would the introduction of a UK-wide deposit return system put a stop to most of the environmental damage caused by drinks containers and boost recycling rates in excess of 90%, it could also provide much needed funding for good causes across the country. It is fantastic and really heartening that so many people would be happy to donate their deposits in this way.
 
‘An effective “all-in” deposit return system will bring an end to the growing disenchantment and scepticism around current recycling methods by doubling current recycling rates. But it’s also evident that the deposit, as well as encouraging the right behaviour in terms of recycling, would allow for people’s generous natures to be realised when it comes to supporting others.’
 
‘It’s important to ensure that England’s scheme includes every bottle, can, carton and pouch, whatever the shape, size or material. Not only will this halt the devastation caused to our countryside and environment by drinks container pollution, but if every type of drinks packaging is included in the scheme, it could result in more donated deposits, benefiting nature and local communities.’
 
In the UK, it is estimated that 28 billion single-use glass, plastic and aluminium drinks bottles and cans are sold every year in the UK, according to recent government figures [5]. Due to ineffective waste collection and recycling systems, overall recycling rates in the UK have stagnated at around 45% [6]. This results in a large number of drinks containers either left polluting the countryside, waterways and streets, or being sent for incineration or buried in landfill, rather than recycled.
 
Through its monetary incentive, an effective UK-wide deposit return system has the potential to boost recycling rates for drinks containers to more than 90%. CPRE highlights that this would significantly reduce the environmental damage they cause, as well as ensuring that the producers of drinks packaging rightfully become financially responsible for the full costs of the waste they create.
 
Earlier this month the Scottish government announced its plans to introduce a deposit return system for glass, plastic and aluminium drinks containers of all sizes
 
CPRE is calling for the UK government to build on Scotland’s ambition by introducing a fully comprehensive ‘all-in’ system, including all drinks containers of all sizes and materials, to make sure that England gets the most effective and economically viable deposit system in the world. 
 
 
Notes:
1. The survey was commissioned by CPRE and conducted by ICM Unlimited. ICM interviewed a sample of 2,112 UK adults aged 18+ online using its omnibus service between 27 and 29 March 2019. The results have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults aged 18+. ICM Unlimited is the specialist social and political research division of Walnut Unlimited, the human understanding agency.
The survey results will be available on CPRE’s website after the embargo lifts on Thursday 30 May 2019. 
 
For an advanced copy of the survey results please email philr@cpre.org.uk
 
2. CPRE based its analysis, which shows that more than £1 billion would be raised for local charitable causes through donated deposits, based on the following criteria:
  • 20% of respondents from the representative sample of the UK population said that they would donate their deposits all of the time. 
  • The deposit value for a UK-wide deposit return system is very likely to be 20p, as this is the value confirmed by the Scottish government on 8 May 2019.
  • A UK-wide deposit return system achieves a 90% return rate for the 28 billion glass and plastic bottles and aluminium, which government statistics show are sold each year in the UK.
3. Using the above criteria but expecting the 19% of respondents who said they would donate their deposits most of the time, and 34% would donate at least some of the time, to donate half of their deposits collectively.
 
4. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra): Single-use plastic carrier bags charge: data in England for 2016 to 2017
Almost two-thirds of retailers voluntarily provided additional information on how much they had donated to good causes. These retailers donated over £66 million to good causes amounting to 4 pence for every single-use bag sold by them.
 
5. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra): Consultation on introducing a Deposit Return Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
UK consumers go through an estimated 14 billion plastic drinks bottles, 9 billion drinks cans and 5 billion glass bottles a year.
 
6. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra): UK Statistics on Waste 2019

29th May 2019 Save Sheffield's Countryside UPDATE

Save our green belt

Some of you may have seen CPRE at Sheffield station just before Easter, when we unveiled our map of countryside at risk. Now here’s our first update.

If you would like to receive our updates direct to your inbox, please sign up to our monthly eNewsletter, HERE.

At the station event, we met people from all across the city, and learned about the parts of the countryside that matter to them. We also had some really good media coverage in the Yorkshire Post, Sheffield Star and Telegraph, and on Twitter. It seems our key message – that Sheffield can and should meet its housing needs without eating into precious countryside – strikes a chord with many people.

You may also have seen articles in the national press suggesting that Green Belt needs to be released on a large scale to provide homes. This is presented as a moral argument – people need homes more than they need countryside. We argue that this is flawed logic. In Sheffield, CPRE research shows enough brownfield land for about 25,000 homes – around 11 years’ supply. These are just the brownfield sites that landowners have already put forward for development. 

Much more could be done to re-model currently run down areas of Sheffield. Treating greenfield sites as an easy, go-to option doesn’t just waste countryside – it also wastes these important opportunities to bring new life to existing neighbourhoods. 

We’re hoping you can get these messages heard by your local councillors. Whatever their political persuasion, they must be in no doubt about how much their voters care about their environment – the good bits and the bad bits. They care about parks, trees, air quality, litter, rivers and wildlife, allotments, and places to walk, cycle and do sport. Will you write, email or talk to them to help us save precious green belt land?

In the coming few months, we’ll be organising events in places across Sheffield where we know the countryside is under pressure for development. We want to hear what matters to you and talk about how we can make change happen. We’ll email you dates and venues as soon as they are booked!

Please let us know if you’d like to volunteer to do more, including getting our information distributed in your local area. Please either email us on mail@cpresouthyorks.org.uk or call on 0114 279 2655.

Thanks for your support so far!

9th May 2019 Save Sheffield's Countryside

Sheffield’s countryside is at risk

Sheffield City Council are set to redraw the boundaries of the green belt in order to build thousands of new houses. But these homes will NOT meet the housing need, but are likely to be executive homes instead.

We fear that much valuable countryside will be lost unnecessarily as the number and type of homes built will not meet people’s real housing needs.  Nor will the sites chosen be sustainable – they will not be close to public transport nor local facilities.

We need to keep high quality green spaces close to where people live – they are a key asset for quality of life for everyone and they underpin Sheffield’s reputation as the ‘Outdoor City’.

Click here to see our map which shows our best estimate, as a professional planning organisation, of where green belt land around Sheffield will be under pressure for development. Some of these areas will be proposed by the Council in its long awaited new Local Plan. Much more is at risk from landowners and housebuilders pushing for extra sites to be allocated.

If these beautiful green field sites are released by the Council in the Local Plan, landowners and housebuilders will choose them over the inner city brownfield sites because the profit margins are much greater.

Act now…

If you think Sheffield should only grow outwards if it is first making the best possible use of land and buildings within the city, please take action:

  • Donate to our campaign fund:  
  • Click here to add your name to our petition and sign up for campaign updates (via our email addresses at Friends of the Peak District)
  • Click here to email the Leader of the Council, Julie Dore,  to voice your concerns. You may choose to copy and paste the following text.

Dear Councillor Dore,

I’m very concerned that the forthcoming Local Plan will unnecessarily damage Sheffield’s Green Belt by allowing developers to build executive homes in our finest countryside, which will not meet the real need for more affordable homes in sustainable locations.

I’m particularly concerned that local greenspace close to where I live [insert area] may be affected, as CPRE have indicated. [option to add reason(s) why developing this area would be damaging]

I am asking you and the Council to reconsider your plans so that we can have both the homes that are needed to underpin Sheffield’s future growth but without damaging the huge asset of the countryside on our doorstep.

I would be grateful if you could tell me what housing is allocated for [insert name of area] in the Local Plan.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely

9th May 2019 Drinks container crisis: global annual consumption nears 2 trillion

International ‘Clean Planet’ coalition calls for world-wide deposit return systems for drinks containers

In an international day of action for a ‘Clean Planet’, a global network of campaigners and organisations have come together to call for world-wide deposit return systems to stop the environmental damage caused by the vast amounts of drinks containers produced, sold and thrown away every day.

At 9.00am local time on the 9 May 2019 in each country, over a 24-hour period, the network of groups from 22 countries across five continents [1] will release a series of aerial photographs and videos of messages written on hillsides, beaches and buildings calling for a ‘Clean Planet’.

The global stunt is aimed at raising awareness of the environmental impact of drinks packaging, with an international call for action for governments across the world to extend, update or introduce a deposit return system in each country respectively, as the best solution to drinks container pollution [2].

In a joint statement the Clean Planet campaigners, said: ‘The scale of the pollution problem requires immediate global action. Now is the time for every government around the world to stand up and take action against the environmental devastation caused by drinks cans, bottles and cartons – we cannot wait any longer for a clean planet.

‘Through effective deposit return systems that collect and accept every single type of drinks container, introduced right across the world, we have a chance to stop choking our planet with the trillions of bottles, cans and cartons that are produced every single year.’

The case for deposit return systems

When introduced, effective deposit return systems simultaneously boost recycling rates for drinks containers to more than 90%, reduce the environmental damage they cause by stopping them from being littered and make producers of these products responsible for the cost of the waste that they create.

In the process, more recycled content is used to create drinks containers and more refillable containers are used as part of a circular economy, which in turn creates jobs, reduces waste and slows down the depletion of natural resources.

In 2015, it was it was estimated that 1.6 trillion drinks containers were sold across the world [3]. Using growth projections based on the increase in the numbers drinks container sold from 2014 to 2015, global sales of aluminium cans, glass and plastic bottles, as well as drinks cartons, pouches, sachets, look set to reach 1.9 trillion in 2019 [4].

Yet ineffective waste collection and recycling systems across the world mean that a large number of these single-use products are left polluting the environment, and many that are collected as waste are either sent for incineration or buried in landfill, rather than recycled.

Samantha Harding, litter programme director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said:

‘We stand united with campaigners from all across the globe, calling for world-wide deposit return systems to tackle the environmental crisis caused by drinks containers.

‘With global sales approaching 2 trillion, it is clear that the consumption of drinks cans, bottles and cartons has reached epidemic proportions. Without immediate action, our countryside and environment will continue to pay the price for the careless actions of those producing these products.

‘As the UK government edges closer to a decision on the type of deposit return system that will be introduced here in England, it is imperative that the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, ensures that we get the best possible system.

‘Only by introducing an “all-in” deposit return system – that includes every single drinks can, bottle and carton of all sizes and materials – are we going to effectively tackle the crisis and bring about the clean planet that we so desperately need.’

Last year, the UK government committed to introduce a deposit return system in England [5]. It is currently consulting on two design options for what the system will include and how it will operate [6].

CPRE is calling for a fully comprehensive ‘all-in’ system, including all drinks containers of all sizes and materials, to make sure that England gets the most effective and economically viable deposit system in the world.


Notes :

1.The global network of ‘Clean Planet’ campaigners are demanding change through the introduction of a deposit return system in those countries that do not yet have one, and extending deposit systems in countries that already have one to make them more effective by including all cans, bottles and cartons.

2. Photographs and videos of the global CLEAN PLANET messages will be available at 9.00am local time in each country taking place throughout the day on Thursday, 9 May 2019 in this Dropbox folder: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6u3ijkzc7zy6lr3/AAD-8Sucs9-fCOISqlHcRG9qa?dl=0

3. What is a ‘deposit return system’? A deposit return system is the most effective recycling system, delivering much higher levels of recyclable waste collection, as well as increasing the quantity of low contamination, high quality materials collected for recycling.

How does it work? When you buy a drink, you pay a small deposit (10-20p) and then when you return the container to one of the many return points, you get your deposit back. Thanks to the monetary incentive, such schemes already in operation throughout the world achieve unrivalled return rates of between 70-98.5%, with an associated reduction in other container litter of up to 80%.

Who pays for it? Set up costs for the system are paid by the producers of drinks container packaging via a one-off fee, often known as a ‘joining fee’. The ongoing costs for the system are funded by:

  • Unclaimed deposits
  • Material revenues, received from the sale of glass, aluminium and plastic collected via the deposit return system
  • Producer fees, which make up the balance between income from material revenues and unclaimed deposits against the costs of collection, transport, processing, administration and handling fees – ie. the administration fee guarantees the deposit system is ‘cost neutral’ overall.

In short, the system follows the ‘polluter pays’ principle, ensuring that the cost of dealing with drinks containers is met by those who produce them and those who litter them. There is a net-zero cost to retailers, and consumers will only be out of pocket if they do not return the can or bottle after consumption.

4. Rexam Annual Report 2015Globally, about 1.6 trillion units of beverage packs were sold in 2015, an increase of 5% in volume versus 2014

5. Based on the 5% increase in volume from 2014 to 2015, set out by Rexam in its 2015 Annual Report, if continued the global sales would increase from 1.6 trillion in 2015 to 1.9 trillion in 2019.

6. Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs: Deposit return scheme in fight against plasticIntroducing a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

24th Apr 2019 How you can make a difference in the local elections

At CPRE, we are big believers in local democracy and in the importance of people and communities having an influence over the decisions that affect their lives. The upcoming local elections being held in England on Thursday 2 May are a great opportunity to have a say on matters affecting your area.

Voting will be taking place in 248 councils, including in Sheffield, electing over 8,500 councillors and six directly elected mayors, with almost every part of the country being affected in some way. This is the biggest local election in a number of years, and could see the political landscape at the local level shift significantly.

We have created this video to explain why it is so important that we get out and vote in these elections!

Click here to download the CPRE 2019 Local Election Manifesto.

 

25th Mar 2019 Enough Brownfield land to build more than 1 million homes

At a time when we are still awaiting the Sheffield Local Plan, and its potential threat to green belt land, a new analysis of councils’ Brownfield Land Registers, published by CPRE, demonstrates the huge potential that building on derelict and vacant land has for the provision of new homes.
In order to provide enough housing in England for everyone who needs it, we must be creative within our finite land. By making use of suitable brownfield sites, the homes we need can be built in the places we need them, while our beautiful countryside is allowed to thrive.

Brownfield sites are also often close to where people already work and live, with infrastructure such as public transport, schools and shops already in place. CPRE has long campaigned for brownfield development to be brought to the top of the planning agenda. We urged the government to introduce regulations that make it compulsory for local planning authorities to publish a list of suitable brownfield sites, and estimates of their capacity for housing. These regulations came into force in April 2017, and we were finally able to definitively analyse the number of identified suitable brownfield sites for housing across the whole of England.

This report measures progress towards achieving the government's aim of ‘making full and efficient use of brownfield land’.

All the sites on the registers have been assessed by local planning authorities as being ‘suitable’ for housing development, having had regard to their environmental, amenity and heritage value.

The analysis highlights that there is space on suitable ‘brownfield land’ – land that has previously been built on, and now sits derelict or vacant – to accommodate more than one million new homes, two-thirds of which are ‘shovel ready’ and could make an immediate contribution to meeting housing need, as they have been confirmed as being deliverable within five years.

Prioritising this land, which councils have shown is ready and waiting to be redeveloped, would not only help to transform run-down areas, and provide more homes, but also prevent the unnecessary loss of precious countryside and green spaces for housing.

Rebecca Pullinger, planning campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England said:

‘Building on brownfield land presents a fantastic opportunity to simultaneously remove local eyesores and breathe new life into areas crying out for regeneration. It will help to limit the amount of countryside lost to development, and build more homes in areas where people want to live, with infrastructure, amenities and services already in place'.

Many areas across England with high housing need also have a large amount of brownfield land ready for redevelopment. London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield have identified land available for regeneration that would provide almost half a million homes.

In order to make best use of suitable brownfield land, CPRE is urging the government to introduce a genuine ‘brownfield first’ policy, which ensures that suitable previously developed or under-used land is prioritised for redevelopment over green spaces and countryside. Clearer definitions and guidelines must be given so that the registers act as a true pipeline, identifying all possible brownfield sites and recording their suitability for uses other than housing, including uses that protect the biodiversity or heritage value of sites where applicable.

Notes 

1. CPRE, State of Brownfield 2019

2. Nb. All the sites on the registers have been assessed by local planning authorities as being ‘suitable’ for housing development, having had regard to their environmental, amenity and heritage value.

3. Key statistics in brownfield registers analysis:

Number of local authorities with a published register

338

Number of sites identified

18,277

Total area (hectares) identified

26,002

Minimum housing capacity identified

1,077,292

Minimum housing capacity of deliverable sites

634,750

4. Breakdown for new brownfield sites added in the past 12 months:

New sites added since February 2018

2,634

Total area (hectares) of new sites added since February 2018

2,894

Minimum housing capacity of new sites added since February 2018

126,099*

*The total housing capacity of registers that have been reviewed in the past 12 months is 822,929 homes. This figure has been used in assessing the proportion of homes that are newly identified.

7th Mar 2019 New hope for Loxley Valley

A new initiative to find a future for the derelict Hepworth’s 'brickworks' site in the Loxley Valley has begun.

Sheffield City Council and the site’s new owners, Patrick Properties, are working with countryside charity CPRE to engage the local community in preparing planning proposals for the huge site, which has lain dormant since the 1990s.

The process began with a productive workshop at Langland’s Garden Centre in December 2018, with an invited audience of community groups, environmental groups, Parish councillors and local businesses. This will pave the way for further engagement and a full public consultation in early summer.

Hepworths vacated the site in the early 1990s, leaving a number of large factory buildings that are now unsafe having fallen into disrepair. However, there are some cottages still in use at the site, as well as a millpond, extensive woodlands, and a bowling club. Although the site is secure, antisocial behaviour has occurred on site in recent months, causing considerable concern and nuisance to the local residents. Bovis Homes drew up proposals for a scheme of 500 homes in 2005, but a planning application was never submitted.

Paul Martin, Managing Director of site owner Patrick Properties, said, “We are preparing a unique scheme which complements the surrounding countryside and makes use of a derelict brownfield site. We believe that we can do this with a smaller number of houses than was previously proposed. We are keen to have a good relationship with the community and create a great place to live, work and play. We’ve commissioned URBED, a planning and design consultancy with a great reputation, to prepare a scheme. The workshop was extremely helpful for us to identify the important issues we need to consider before we start work on the proposals.”

CPRE’s planning officer, Andrew Wood, said, “Everyone in Bradfield and the Loxley Valley cares about this site, and we want to see it come back to life in a positive way that’s good for the community and the environment. We see it as a unique site that needs a unique solution. We’re delighted that the Council and the landowner are opening up a genuine conversation about this.”

Participants at the workshop raised a wide range of issues, including the need to enhance the woodland character of the valley, manage flood risk, and ensure that new development can be accessed without putting additional strain on the road network. A report of the workshop will be published shortly, and open engagement with the public will begin in the coming months.

For more information, contact andrew@cprepeakandsyorks.org.uk

19th Feb 2019 Government consults on deposit refund scheme

We're one step closer to getting a deposit system that could boost recycling for bottles and cans to more than 90%, as Defra consults on two options on how the system will operate.

We welcome the commitment to the scheme but hope the Government learns from past mistakes when consulting retailers and the packaging industry.

CPRE recently highlighted extracts from archived transcripts demonstrating that the decision by the House of Lords to reject a Beverage Container Bill in 1981. It shows that 26 trade associations lobbied the Government to reject a deposit system, on the grounds they would voluntarily take action to deal with the packaging they create. Almost forty years on, the polluted state of our countryside, streets and oceans proves that any effort they may have made has failed.

Last year, the packaging industry paid just £73 million towards the £1 billion clean-up costs of dealing with their products, while tax payers were left to foot the remaining 93% of the £1 billion.

So we urge you to respond to the consultation by midnight on Monday 13th May 2019.

Here’s how:

  • Online using the citizen space consultation hub at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/
  • By email to: DRS@defra.gov.uk
  • Or in writing to: Deposit Return Scheme Team, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Ground Floor, Seacole Block, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF

More information from CPRE here.

4th Feb 2019 New maps show more than a third of people can’t easily enjoy England’s most beautiful countryside

Countryside charity CPRE calls for better access to our celebrated landscapes 

England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are revered for their spectacular landscapes and contain the country’s most iconic countryside, which can boost our physical health and mental wellbeing. But CPRE has launched detailed maps that show 36% of England’s population live too far from the current network of 10 National Parks and 34 AONBs for these areas to be classified as easily accessible.
 
The maps show that the majority of people in many major towns and cities, including Liverpool, Chester, Leicester, Cambridge, Northampton and Peterborough, live outside the accessible catchment area to these beauty spots, and are more likely to miss out on benefits that easy and regular access to these landscapes can bring.
 
The maps also highlight a strong correlation between levels of social deprivation and a lack of access to National Parks and AONBs, with almost half of the most socially deprived areas of the country falling outside of the accessible range. CPRE fears that the frequent lack of affordable and sustainable transport options means that many people are not able to access these places to enjoy the huge benefits they provide. 
 
Visitors to National Parks overwhelmingly rely on private transport to reach them and get around, with 93% of journeys made by car. However, the majority of areas where less than half of all households own a car also fall outside of the accessible range of these landscapes. This leaves the majority of people who live furthest from England’s most beautiful countryside reliant on public transport to reach it.
 
However, affordable and frequent rail travel is not always possible to National Parks and AONBs, and almost always requires onward travel options, such as a reliable bus service. There are innovative schemes, such as the Dales Bus service in the Yorkshire Dales, but these are not universal.
 
Emma Marrington, senior rural policy campaigner at CPRE, said: ‘When the most beautiful parts of England’s countryside were given National Park status, or designated as AONBs, they were done so as a public good – so that everyone could enjoy the benefits that access to them can bring. But the mapping demonstrates that a huge amount of people are currently missing out.
 
‘Regular interaction with the natural world – fresh air, exercise, escaping the stresses and strains of urban living, just being in the great outdoors – is inextricably linked to increased levels of health and happiness. By increasing the provision of affordable and sustainable transport options to and around these places it would not only create a countryside for all, but also help to combat isolation among communities within National Parks and AONBs.’
 
An independent review of England’s National Parks and AONBs, led by journalist and writer Julian Glover, is currently being undertaken. CPRE hopes that the final report and recommendations from the review, due out this autumn, will consider how to enable greater access to these landscapes so that they can benefit even more people, improving their health and wellbeing, as well as instilling a love for these special places.
 
Landscapes Review of National Parks and AONBs lead and journalist, Julian Glover, said: ‘Seventy years ago parliament voted to protect our finest landscapes for everyone’s benefit. Now it is time to renew that mission. We need to preserve and enhance their beauty, help people who live in them and turn around the decline in the natural environment. We also need to make sure they can be understood and enjoyed by all parts of a changed society. These are big challenges and I hope the review I am leading will make progress towards meeting them.’ 
CPRE is calling for increased resources for outreach and engagement programmes to provide equal opportunities for access to National Parks and AONBs for everyone. 
 
The countryside charity would also like to see a network of accessible, stile-free paths that are wheelchair-friendly created in all National Parks and AONBs, as well as opportunities for all school children to visit and learn about National Parks and AONBs as part of the national curriculum.
 
Notes:
1. Landscapes Review of National Parks and AONBs: CPRE mapping is available here on CPRE's website
 
CPRE’s mapping, created by LUC, investigates how accessible the current network of National Parks and AONBs are to people, both in overall proximity and within a 15 mile catchment area.
 
The research shows that 64% of England’s population lives within 15 miles of a protected landscape, leaving 36% of the population outside of the catchment. The results show that there are significant gaps - particularly the area between Leicester, Grantham, Stamford and Kettering - this area is the furthest distance from any protected landscape in England.
 
2. The maps were commissioned as evidence for an independent review of National Parks and AONB last year (the Glover review). www.gov.uk/government/news/national-parks-review-launched 
 
3. The mapping considers which areas are within 15 miles of a Protected Landscape when travelling on the existing road network. The map shows which areas are well and less well served by National Parks or AONBs if you have access to a car or can get there by public transport. This highlights that there are large swathes of England that are outside of this zone.
 
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) fights for a better future for the English countryside. We work locally and nationally to protect, shape and enhance a beautiful, thriving countryside for everyone to value and enjoy. Our members are united in their love for England’s landscapes and rural communities, and stand up for the countryside, so it can continue to sustain, enchant and inspire future generations. Founded in 1926, President: Emma Bridgewater, Patron: Her Majesty The Queen. www.cpre.org.uk

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