Letter to the editor...
Your special feature on Sheffield’s Green Belt (26th July) raises some crucial issues about how we value our open spaces and the unique connection Sheffield has to its surrounding countryside.
We are yet to see the draft new Local Plan for the city, but we know two things: the City Council is trying hard to focus new development on brownfield sites; but there will be proposals for some major schemes in the Green Belt.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has been at the forefront of shaping and defending Sheffield’s Green Belt since the 1930s. Without the Green Belt, Sheffield would have sprawled many more miles along the river valleys and out into beautiful landscapes. It would also have been a less attractive and less healthy city, because the Green Belt brought the countryside into town and created ‘The Outdoor City’.
Last year, CPRE published a ‘Blueprint for Sheffield’s Green Belt’, which set out our vision. Sheffield should only grow outwards if it is making the best of use of existing urban land, including remodelling run-down neighbourhoods and improving urban green space. Brownfield sites should be prioritised, so long as they are in the right places to help create good, sustainable places. And the Green Belt should only change if this will create truly exceptional outcomes for quality of life – not just more housing.
Meeting people’s need for a decent home is fundamental. Therefore an essential test of proposed Green Belt changes is whether they will genuinely address housing need. Nationally, we have just published a report that shows Local Plans across the country are set to release Green Belt land for around 460,000 homes, but only 22% of those will be affordable. This is a damaging double-whammy.
Perhaps the greatest threat Sheffield’s Green Belt faces is that many of the sites housebuilders are itching to develop are in affluent, high-demand areas, where they want to build large, expensive homes. Time and again we have seen developers wriggle out of their obligations to build affordable homes. As a result, expensive areas will become more expensive, as new homes fuel demand, while poorer areas that need investment will be left behind. This means there is a huge risk that Green Belt changes in Sheffield will worsen the already deep social inequalities in Sheffield.
We were delighted to see that Stocksbridge and Penistone MP, Angela Smith, raised exactly these issues in Parliament recently. Her constituency contains land and neighbourhoods that perfectly illustrate the challenge: brownfield sites in areas needing regeneration, and tracts of beautiful countryside that should be protected for everyone, not sold to the highest bidder for exclusive housing. We hope that Sheffield City Council, through the new Local Plan, will take a robust approach to meeting this challenge.
It should be up to local communities to decide whether or not to host fracking operations in their areas
New government proposals which are trying to force through fracking is being widely criticised. They would enable shale gas explorers to drill test sites in England without applying for planning permission and fracking sites could be classed as nationally significant infrastructure, meaning approval would come at a national rather than local level.
Daniel Carey-Dawes, Senior Infrastructure Campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said:
‘It’s as if the government doesn’t realise the scale of the opposition. If they press ahead with these proposals, the protests, outrage and anger from local people across the country will undoubtedly intensify.
‘These proposals would be a complete perversion of the planning system and trample over the rights of local communities - all to fast-track an industry bringing environmental risks that would massively outweigh any suggested ‘benefit’ to our energy security.’
Following the initial announcement of the proposals, CPRE launched a petition with 38 Degrees to demonstrate to the government the scale of opposition. The petition has received almost 150,000 signatures so far, reflecting the widespread discontent with fracking since the industry first targeted the English countryside for drilling.
Click here to sign the 38 Degrees petition.
Or visit the national CPRE website here for more info.
Mark Cocker takes centre stage for a thought-provoking and entertaining star turn at our AGM.
Mark Cocker’s latest book "Our Place - Can We Save Britain’s Wildlife Before It Is Too Late?" is described by The Guardian as ‘a seriously great book, important and urgent’ in which he delivers ‘a blistering attack on the country’s collective failure to protect its landscape and wildlife’.
In the book, Mark criticises national environmental institutions for caring more about membership and landowners than the campaigns that initially spurred them into existence. But he is an Ambassador for the Friends, and promises a fascinating and provocative dialogue as guest speaker at our AGM.
Mark will be interviewed by writer and Guardian journalist, Ed Douglas, focusing on the history of conservation. Together they will discuss issues such as: Where did the green movement start and where did the ideas come from? What has happened to it and where is it going? Who created our cherished institutions like the National Trust and RSPB?
They will address searching questions like: Who owns the land and why? Who benefits from green policies? Relating them to specific landscapes, including the Peak District, they will look at the important role of the mass trespass movement.
They will also explore the great paradox that whilst British people love wildlife and the countryside more than almost any other nation, and it is known to be a fundamental part of our national identity, we have still spectacularly failed to protect it.
Mark promises to be as interesting and stimulating in person as he is in print. All are welcome to attend.
Event details: Annual General Meeting
Date: Thursday 19th July at 7pm (AGM business will follow at 8.15pm)
Venue: The Maynard, Main Road, Grindleford, Derbyshire, S32 2HE
Tickets: Free to members. £5 to non-members (on the door). Anyone planning to attend is invited to email email@example.com or call 0114 279 2655. Non-members are welcome to attend the AGM but will not be eligible to vote.
Download AGM papers
Mark Cocker: acclaimed writer, broadcaster, naturalist and environmental tutor. His latest book (described as radical, provocative and original), "Our Place - Can We Save Britain’s Wildlife Before It Is Too Late?"
Ed Douglas is a writer and journalist with a passion for the wilder corners of the natural world. The current editor of the Alpine Journal, and a current Guardian columnist, Ed is an enthusiastic amateur climber and mountain traveller, with a particular interest in the Himalaya. His latest book, "KINDER SCOUT, The people's mountain" reveals the social, political, cultural and ecological developments that have shaped the physical and human landscape of this enigmatic and treasured hill.
State of Nature report: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/state-of-nature
Of the 3,148 species studied in the report, 60% had declined in the past 50 years, 31% had declined badly and 600 were threatened with extinction. We lost 44m birds and 99% of wildflower meadows, half our ancient woodland, three-quarters of our heathland, and three-quarters of our ponds.
The government has announced plans to speed up the planning process for fracking. Should these plans go ahead, it will be as easy to drill an exploration fracking well as it is to build a conservatory or erect a fence.
These proposals could lead to dozens of new wells being drilled across the English countryside over the next couple of years resulting in significant damage to the environment, landscape and climate.
While fracking-related drilling is currently forbidden within England’s National Parks, in 2015 the Government voted to allow shale gas extraction underneath the Parks. This is a serious threat to the beauty and character of National Parks in areas were fracking could take place, including the Peak District.
Click here to read and sign the petition calling on Westminster to reconsider plans to streamline the planning process for fracking.
Read more on the Campaign for National Parks website... www.cnp.org.uk/news/dont-fast-track-fracking
CPRE has today condemned the Cabinet’s backing for controversial plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport.
Daniel Carey-Dawes, senior infrastructure campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said: "Today’s announcement on a third runway will come at a terrible price for local communities as well as the environment as a whole."
See the national CPRE website to read more....
Join us for a fascinating evening talk about Green Belts, how we made them a reality, and why they're so important.
CPRE planning officer, Andrew Wood explains how Sheffield's Green Belt is not just essential for our quality of life today, but is also a radical and progressive idea with deep historical roots and great promise for the future.
Tickets: £5 each (free to members).
Tea, coffee and nibbles included
Book free members' tickets in advance by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Buy tickets online:
- Victoria Hall, 37 Stafford Road, Sheffield, S2 2SF
The planning inquiry into INEOS' proposals to explore for shale gas, which could lead to the fracking in South Yorkshire, is now over. After late changes were made to the traffic management proposals by INEOS, Rotherham Council's case was weakened significantly, despite Councillors at a recent planning board refusing to back down on their opposition to the revised plans. At the end of the first week of the inquiry, Rotherham withdrew its opposition on ecology after it failed to defend its position properly.
This week has seen a day of local groups, notably Harthill Against Fracking, CPRE South Yorkshire, Friends of the Earth and many local residents making a persuasive and passionate defence of local countryside. Concerns focused on the safety of local residents and visitors on the narrow lanes around the proposed site, off Common Lane, and impacts on local farms.
Andy Tickle, Director, gave evidence to the inquiry, and said "Local people have made their feelings very plain and made a huge contribution to the inquiry. Their evidence was very clear and pointed out the many problems with INEOS' plans, especially on traffic issues. They were amazing!".
The inquiry has now closed but a decision will not be made for several months.
Do you have the drive to develop our organisation and deliver our strategic aims?
We're looking for someone who will provide positive leadership and can deliver well articulated, balanced objectives while maximising fundraising and membership to support the organisation’s costs, increase our influence and enable our campaigning work.
The Friends of the Peak District annual Magnificent Walk will start and finish at the fantastic traditional country pub and restaurant – the Fleece Inn - in the picturesque village of Holme, near Holmfirth.
- 20 beautiful miles from Holme - via the Pennine Way, onto the recently restored Black Hill, above the large mill town of Marsden
- Then follow the Friends’ Peak District Boundary Walk back to Holme around the northern-most tip of the National Park via the spectacular Royd Edge and Digley Reservoir
- 15 mile route also available
- Sign-in at the Fleece Inn from 8am
- 314 bus from Huddersfield at 06:50 and 07:50 (arriving at 07:26 and 08:27)
- Parking will be available (details to be confirmed)
- Public toilets are available in the village
- Drinking water will be made available
- Walkers can set off no earlier than 8.30am
- We'll provide route directions and maps. And we'll waymark the route where necessary
- Runners welcome
- Dogs are not allowed on some sections of the 20 mile walk. Sorry.
- Registration costs £12 for adults (£15 on the day). Children under 16 FREE. All proceeds in aid of the Friends of the Peak District.
- The Fleece Pantry shop will be open from 8am serving a selection of takeaway hot and cold drinks,’holme’ made bread, pies, pasties, cakes and the famous breakfast butties. At the end of your walk, why not enjoy a superb meal at the Fleece Inn, prepared by enthusiastic chefs using fresh local produce, and complimented by a selection of cask conditioned beers and wines from around the world. (Booking is advisable, call 01484 683449).
- Click here to download a gpx file of the route
- Email: email@example.com or call 0114 279 2655
Book your tickets today...
(b) By post
You can download a registration form HERE and send it to us by post. Please make cheques payable to 'CPRE Peak and South Yorks'.
(c) By phone
You can call us on 0114 279 2655 and pay by card.
- Fleece Inn, Holme, near Hollmfirth, HD9 2QG