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Sep 19th, 2011

Planning: New menace to our countryside

By Cian O'Donovan

Green belt destruction

Photograph by Raymond Zoller

Our English countryside is under threat again. The government is trying to rush through massive changes to the planning system, which would make it much easier to build on green field sites. We have just a few weeks to stop this happening.

Experts are lining up to condemn the government plans. The National Trust warns of “unchecked and damaging development”. Friends of the Earth predicts “a building free-for-all that will blight our countryside with bad building”.

A massive people-powered petition can make the government think again. It worked to stop England’s forests being sold off. It can work again to stop precious countryside being wrecked by bulldozers and concrete.

Please add your name now, then forward this message to all your friends: 38degrees.org.uk/save-our-countryside

The government says their plans, called the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), are in the name of economic growth and “sustainable development”. Yet we know that foolishly handing over more power to developers to bulldoze over our countryside is not the path to Britian’s long-term happiness or prosperity. Nor do they bother to actually define or explain what “sustainable development” is or how it would work in a system so heavily weighted in favour of big developers – leading experts to complain it’s mere spin.

Jonathon Porritt, former head of the Sustainable Development Commission, outlines some of his concerns: “ it is just a bit of a problem that there is no reference to environmental limits in the NPPF, no reference to health, no reference to social justice, and no reference to the practicalities of delivering low-carbon growth.”

The English countryside is something we all enjoy. It’s far too precious to build on willy-nilly. Once our green fields are gone, they’re gone forever.

If we work together, we can stand up for a balanced, careful approach to deciding what to build and where to build it. We can protect local communities’ right to have their say, make sure social housing is built where it’s needed and protect wildlife and beautiful, tranquil places.

Having to act fast to stop an urgent threat to our countryside feels eerily familiar doesn’t it! It’s only a few months since half a million of us came together to stop plans to sell off England’s forests. It worked that time – now let’s come together again to stop this new threat to our beautiful green places.

Take two minutes now to add your name to the petition: 38degrees.org.uk/save-our-countryside

The government “consultation” ends in October. They say that after that they want to press ahead quickly. So we’ve got just a few weeks to make this petition huge. Please add your name now, then share this blog post with all your friends and ask them to sign the petition too.

Further information:

Stopping dangerous changes to the planning system was prioritised by thousands of 38 Degrees members in the August campaign priorities poll. You can see the full results here.

National Planning Policy Framework

Campaigning organisations:

The National Trust

Friends of the Earth

Campaign to Protect Rural England

The Woodland Trust

Interesting Articles:

The Guardian: This localism bill will sacrifice our countryside to market forces


Planning For Sustainable Development

The Guardian: This wrecking ball is Osborne’s version of sustainable development

The Guardian: A development free-for-all will lead to chaos

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