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17th Jul 2020 Saving Loxley Valley

We’re campaigning against plans to build 300 houses on Green Belt land in the heart of the beautiful and tranquil Loxley Valley on the doorstep of the Peak District National Park.

We believe the development is neither needed nor appropriate. Alongside the Friends of the Loxley Valley, we're objecting to Patrick Properties’ application to demolish the long-abandoned old refractory works in the valley bottom and replace them with a new township. Here’s why…

It’s been nearly 30 years since there was any significant activity in the old factories. Since then it has become a peaceful recreational corridor, and the old buildings are now largely screened by trees and have become home to a diversity of wildlife

  • the site flooded in 2007 and is still at risk
  • the proposed development is too big and would become an isolated, car dependent enclave of executive homes
  • it would lead to increased traffic on local roads, increased demand on local schools; and generate noise and light pollution
  • it have would a huge impact on the adjoining ancient woodlands, and on the city’s carbon footprint at a time of climate emergency.

You can view our objection in full, here.

 

Or, click here to see a summary of the Friends of the Loxley Valley objections.

15th Jul 2020 Great news - Hollin Busk saved!

Great news - campaign to save wonderful green fields at Hollin Busk near Stocksbridge succeeds as Sheffield Council planning committee refuse permission for unsustainable car-centric low density housing. Well done everyone who worked so hard for this result!

A planning application for 78 low density houses on beautiful green fields at Hollin Busk near Stocksbridge has just been refused by Sheffield City Council's planning committee, despite a strong recommendation by planning officers to approve. The refusal reasons were on visual impact and heritage grounds though these still remain to be finalised.

We were part of a very strong campaign by local action group, the Friends of Hollin Busk, who garnered over 800 objections to the plans plus the backing of local councillors and the local MP, Miriam Cates. Our colleagues at the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust also objected. The committee turned it down by 11 votes to 1. We had sent strong objections at every stage of the application, stating it to be a highly inappropriate site for development: formerly designated open space, adjacent to the green belt and highly unsustainable in terms of low carbon living, especially being completely car dependent.

After the defeat of the unsustainable Owlthorpe Fields application near Mosborough, we hope that the city planners will start to take a tougher line with mediocre housing plans which do nothing for the climate or biodiversity crises or meet the very real need for affordable housing.

3rd Jun 2020 Owlthorpe Fields saved!!

We are delighted that the Planning Committee of Sheffield City Council rejected the planning application to build houses on Owlthorpe Fields.
 
This is the right decision. The councillors asked the right questions and realised that the site deserves much better. We hope the developer can now look constructively at bringing forward a much improved scheme which will create a far more sustainable, low carbon community that provides more homes but with far less negative impact which will be fit for the 21st century.
 
We're so proud to have worked with our friends at the Owlthorpe Fields Action Group and the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, to secure this fantastic achievement.

28th May 2020 Night sky views blocked by light pollution

Star Count shows 61% of participants live in areas with severe light pollution

  • In February CPRE, the countryside charity, asked the nation to count the number of stars visible in the Orion constellation. 
  • More than 2,400 people took part and the results show that for most of us, light pollution is blocking our view of the night sky.
  • 61% of people taking part counted ten stars or fewer, meaning they were in an area with severe light pollution. That’s an increase from 57% last year.
  • CPRE, along with the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies, say that councils must act on light pollution so more people can enjoy starry skies.

This February more than 2,400 people across the country took part in a star counting survey run by CPRE. By counting the number of stars visible in the constellation of Orion, it helps build up a picture of the nation’s views of the night sky.

CPRE believes that a star filled night sky is one of the most magical sights of the countryside. And throughout the coronavirus outbreak lockdown, gazing up at the stars will have brought comfort to many during an extremely difficult time. Yet light pollution can spread from towns and cities into the countryside, denying many people the chance to experience the wonder and tranquillity of seeing a sky full of stars.

The results of this citizen science survey, carried out annually, suggest that across the UK, 61% of people are in areas with severe light pollution, counting fewer than ten stars. This is a rise of 4% from last year, when 57% of people taking part were in these areas.

CPRE chief executive Crispin Truman said: 'Gazing up at the heavens can inspire and help lift our spirits, especially when many of us are forced to do so from within our homes at the moment. It is a shame that few of us can see the starry skies in all their glory, without the intrusion of light pollution.’

There was some good news at the other end of the scale, with 3% of people counting more than 30 stars within Orion, meaning that they were in areas with truly dark skies. That’s a rise from 2% in 2019.

Families who took part and were able to see plenty of stars on the night of their count reported how much they loved the experience. In addition, 99% of star-counters asked said they believed that every child should be able to experience the wonder of a star-filled night sky.

Bob Mizon from the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies (CfDS) said ‘It’s wonderful to hear about families having fun doing the Star Count. Children should be able to see the Milky Way, their own galaxy, by looking up at the sky, not looking online!’

CPRE and CfDS believe that councils have the power to give people better views of the night sky. And when asked, 82% of star-counters responding to a survey said their local council should do more to tackle light pollution.

Crispin added: ‘We’d like to see councils adopting better policies in local plans to tackle light pollution and protect and enhance our darkest skies, where people can still experience the wonder of a star filled night sky. There are straightforward steps councils can take, in consultation with local people, that don’t just reduce light pollution but save energy and money too.’

The map showing the results of CPRE’s Star Count 2020 is online here: cpre.org.uk/starcountresults

16th May 2020 @ 08:00 Magnificent Walk 2020 CANCELLED

We're sorry to have to cancel this event but we'll be back next year. Watch this space!

Plans are afoot (excuse the pun!) for our next Friends of the Peak District Magnificent Walk. As usual there will be a 20+ mile route and a 10+ mile route with friendly marshals and homemade flapjack along the way.

We plan to start and finish at The Three Merry Lads pub in the outskirts of Sheffield, and explore the fantastic scenery on the eastern edge of the Peak District .

Previous magnificent walkers said…

“Great route and well organised. The flapjack was excellent.”

“Thank you we enjoyed the walk immensely and were impressed with how friendly all the people at the checkpoints were.”

“We all had a fantastic day, lots of great memories for the team, some real character building moments at the end of the day! It was very well planned and is very well done. Thank you.”

 

Notes:

  • FREE parking available
  • Marshals and water stations along the route
  • Registration from 8am
  • Departure no earlier than 8.30am
  • Dogs welcome
  • Under 18s must be accompanied by a parent or guardian
  • Completion no later than 7pm

13th May 2020 Be considerate, urges CEO

Chief Executive's statement

Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives

Whilst some travel restrictions in England have been relaxed from 13 May 2020, we urge you to be considerate to the communities in the Peak District National Park and South Yorkshire if you choose to visit those areas to undertake outdoor exercise

Please do bear in mind that the majority of visitor facilities remain closed for the time being.

Social distancing measures continue to apply - please observe these at all times.

In addition to our ‘normal’ work, we are currently working with a range of organisations to promote safe, sensible, and sensitive access to the countryside and landscapes that we work to protect.

Please do take care. Tomo Thompson

16th Apr 2020 Not exactly business as usual but we're still here!

In order to protect our staff, and to follow the NHS guidance, the office of CPRE South Yorkshire & Friends of the Peak District in Victoria Hall, Sheffield is closed until further notice. All of the staff are home working and continuing to protect the valuable landscapes of the Peak District and South Yorkshire. You can reach all of the staff via their usual email addresses.

We would urge all of our members, and all those who enjoy the landscapes of the Peak District and South Yorkshire to adhere to the current advice from the Government and from the NHS with regards to staying safe and minimising the spread of the virus.

We will be using our website and social media feeds to keep in touch with all of you – please do follow us on the web, twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Many thanks for your support, do follow the official guidance, and please do take care!

12th Mar 2020 More government funding for new homes goes to London than the North and Midlands combined

CPRE analysis reveals...

  • New analysis of government figures from CPRE, the countryside charity, shows the total spend on house building schemes in Greater London is more than the Midlands and the Northern Powerhouse combined.
  • Spending per person on these schemes over the past three years has run at over three times the level in Greater London (£85 per person) than in both the Midlands Engine ‘super-region’ (£24 pp) and the Northern Powerhouse (£28 pp).
  • CPRE is calling on the government to reform these house building schemes immediately and to use the upcoming Budget to invest a fairer share of funding in the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.

The government is investing three times more in new housing schemes in London and the South East as it is in the Midlands and in the Northern Powerhouse, according to new analysis from CPRE, the countryside charity. The schemes, which aim to promote and reward increased house building, are skewed towards London and the South East and directly contradict the government’s levelling up agenda.

Recent allocations from three Government funds – the New Homes Bonus, the Housing Infrastructure Fund and the Home Building Fund - are at three times the level in Greater London compared to the Midlands Engine ‘super-region’ (the former East and West Midlands government office regions) and the Northern Powerhouse (the former Government office regions of the North East, North West and Yorkshire & the Humber). Total spend on these housing schemes in Greater London is also equal to both super-regions combined.

Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy at CPRE, the countryside charity, said:

“This week the Chancellor is expected to outline his ‘big infrastructure’ Budget aimed at levelling up forgotten parts of the country. But the majority of investment to encourage and reward house building over the past three years has been spent in London and the South East. This is unacceptable as the housing crisis is not just affecting the South East but is holding back large parts of the country, including our rural communities across England.

“If the Chancellor is serious about levelling up the country, he must reverse this imbalance immediately and put left-behind communities at the heart of his Budget. It is these communities who desperately need well-designed new places which can be delivered with a fairer share of housing investment from central government.”

The New Homes Bonus – a grant paid by central government to local councils to reflect and incentivise housing growth in their areas – has shown some particularly stark contrasts since it was first launched in 2011, including:

  • Central Bedfordshire (pop.280,000) got more than Manchester (pop.545,000)
  • The London Borough of Barnet (392,140) got more than Liverpool (490,000)
  • Cambridge (125,000) got more than Newcastle (292,000)
  • Milton Keynes (267,000) got more than Sheffield (518,090)
  • South Oxfordshire (140,000) got more than Stoke (255,000)
  • Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire (population 130,000) got more than Hull (260,000)

To right this imbalance, CPRE is calling for the government programmes supporting housing growth, in particular the Housing Investment Fund and the New Homes Bonus, to be fundamentally reformed so that there is a more explicit focus on regenerating deprived areas. There is scope to build nearly four times more new homes on suitable brownfield land in the Northern Powerhouse, and at least an equal number of homes on suitable brownfield sites in the Midlands Engine.

To start ‘levelling up’ the government must start channelling a fairer share of central government funding to schemes in the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine to develop and build on brownfield sites and contribute to urban regeneration by building well designed homes that people can afford.

For further information, please contact:  Jonathan Jones, CPRE National Media Relations Lead, 020 7981 2819/ 078 3529 1907 

 

Notes

Oxford Cambridge Growth Arc. Spending decisions have favoured the Oxford Cambridge Growth Arc which is getting substantially more per capita than either the Midlands or the North, and more in real terms than the Midlands.

Housing Design Audit: Recent University College London research, commissioned by CPRE, has found that the quality of design in new housing is significantly poorer in the northern regions and in the eastern part of the Midlands. The current approach is not only regionally imbalanced, it is overlooking brownfield potential and is causing unnecessary damage to our urban and rural landscapes. The full Housing Design Audit can be found here: https://bit.ly/2TnTWV1

CPRE: For more information on CPRE’s position go to our website to view our manifesto in full:  https://www.cpre.org.uk/ 

21st Feb 2020 Star Count 2020: connect with our starry skies

This February, CPRE, the countryside charity, invites everyone to join in with Star Count 2020, a fun and easy way to enjoy the wonders of the universe. By simply counting the number of stars they can see in the Orion constellation between 21 and 28 February, those taking part will help map the best and worst places to see the awesome sight of a star-filled night sky.

Throughout history people have gazed up at the magical starry night sky in wonder, and used the cosmos to navigate. Looking at the stars we get a feeling of tranquillity rarely experienced in today’s frantic lives. Seeing dark skies full of stars is something we associate with the countryside, and part of reconnecting with the natural world. However, places to view these spellbinding sights are becoming harder to find, even in the countryside. 

Last year’s Star Count results showed that light pollution, often caused by the glow and glare from street and outdoor household and sports lighting, is making beautiful starry skies a rare sight for many of us. Just 2% of people who took part in Star Count 2019 told us they were viewing a truly dark sky. 

Emma Marrington, CPRE’s starry skies expert, said: ‘A starry night sky is one of the most magical sights the countryside can offer, connecting people to such an important part of our natural heritage.  But many people don’t get to experience this beauty due to light pollution. We want to get people out counting the stars and helping to save them now and for future generations to enjoy!’

As well as preventing us from seeing the stars and wonders of our Milky Way galaxy, the Northern Lights, and meteors (shooting stars), light pollution has serious impacts. It disrupts the natural behaviour of wildlife and can be harmful for our health. It’s also a waste of energy, at a time when many people are trying to live more sustainably.

Using the results from the annual Star Count, CPRE will lobby Government and local authorities to tackle light pollution, and also highlight which ‘dark sky’ areas need to be protected and enhanced by strong policies.

CPRE’s Star Count is supported by the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies (CfDS). 

Expert astronomer Bob Mizon from the CfDS said: ‘As well as being a wonderful opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy the night sky, Star Count is starting to give us some really useful information. We’re hoping many more people will join in this year and give us the best map ever.’

To take part, star count-ers are asked to choose a clear night between Friday 21 and Friday 28 February. During this time the moon is less bright, making it easier to carry out a cosmic census, although CPRE will accept results from any nights in the second half of February. Without using a telescope of binoculars, people can then count the stars within the rectangle shape formed by Orion, except the four stars on the outer corners, then submit their results at cpre.org.uk/starcount 

For further information contact: Jamie Wyver, CPRE Media Relations, 020 7981 2827 / JamieW@cpre.org.uk 

Notes:
The British Astronomical Association is Britain’s largest astronomical organisation, with thousands of members nation-wide. Its Campaign for Dark Skies was founded in 1989, and aims to ensure quality lighting in the UK. A well-lit environment below and a view of the starry sky above are not incompatible.

19th Feb 2020 Funding cuts to rural transport links leave communities high and dry in transport deserts

CPRE have undertaken new research, working with the Campaign for Better Transport, into how well connected our rural communities are. It shows that outside of England’s major cities, communities are being left in ever-expanding ‘transport deserts’ with inadequate bus and train connections.

By Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity

You may think I’m seeing a mirage, issuing a warning about deserts in our countryside – especially given the recent wet weather. But be in no doubt, we are seeing the rise of so-called ‘transport deserts’ that are stunting the potential of our countryside and the people who live in it.

When the only option for many people living in rural communities is to get around by car, which is the reality for thousands of people who live in Yorkshire, they could be living in a transport desert. The research launched this week by CPRE, the countryside charity and the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT), is the first attempt to develop a scoring system to rank the public transport options available to rural communities.

The extremities of a desert make for an unfortunate but apt way to describe the findings – funding cuts to rural transport have left many countryside communities high and dry. Our research has found that nearly one million people living in the south west and north east of England are living in transport deserts or areas at risk of becoming one. If we widened the scope of this study, we would expect to see that many more millions of people in towns and the surrounding villages, across the country, are living in areas that are equally poorly served by public transport links.

If you’re thinking of visiting or moving to a small town the first question is often: how am I going to get a round? Two-thirds of the towns we looked at had no train station connecting them to the national rail network: CBT figures show that more than £29 million has been cut from local authority bus services across Yorkshire and the Humber.

At CPRE, the countryside charity, we want rural communities to thrive so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of the countryside. Ensuring that our towns and villages are well connected in terms of transport links is a central part of this vision. And the benefits are clear.

With a better public transport system, we could see local shops and high streets regenerate as people become less reliant on online shopping. A network of bus routes providing access to key services for smaller rural settlements would ensure that people of all ages and backgrounds can continue to live in the countryside, protecting their way of life. Vitally, we also believe that better public transport in rural areas has a huge role to play in reducing the UK’s pollution and carbon emissions.

That’s why the government’s announcement for £5 billion into buses and cycling infrastructure is welcome news but needs to go further for rural communities to ensure they receive their fair share. This could be achieved by setting an ambitious target for the number of people living within walking distance of a regularly served bus stop in the upcoming National Bus Strategy.

But it’s not all about the bus. A range of public transport options will be essential to keep traffic off the road and carbon emission out of the atmosphere. In the face of the climate emergency, we cannot allow emissions from transport – the largest contributor to climate change in this country – to go on rising. A genuinely ambitious programme of rail reopenings connecting rural communities with the rail network will be central in creating the low carbon and connected countryside many millions are asking for. That’s why we need a Rural Transport Fund that provides better transport links for rural communities

For too long, communities in the countryside have been routinely left at the back of the queue for transport investment. That often literally means being stuck in traffic on a congested, polluted country road. CPRE, the countryside charity, will continue to campaign and drum up the necessary political will to ensure excellent public transport links return to our countryside, to the benefit of all.

Read the Yorkshire Post article here: https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/opinion/columnists/better-bus-services-and-reopening-rail-lines-can-tackle-yorkshire-s-public-transport-deserts-crispin-truman-1-10261890

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