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The CPRE South East eBulletin is a monthly digest of regional and national news about the rural landscape. It is sent by email (html) with the option of a PDF version (available below). The date of the eBulletin refers to the previous month; for example the November eBulletin is published at the beginning of December. Sign up to receive the South East eBulletin by email

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2009

End December 2009 & review of year. The new PPS4: Planning for Sustainable Economic Growth was published, the government claimed it will protect town centres, local markets and rural life. A National Housing Federation study showed widespread support for affordable rural housing. Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps announced plans to create Local Housing Trusts which will be able to award permission for affordable housing. CABE, CPRE and the housing ministers for England and Scotland called for more council built housing and less emphasis on home ownership. 180,000 new homes have been built over domestic gardens in the past five years, the government admitted. Oxfordshire farmer Poul Christensen was confirmed as chairman of Natural England. A review into town green law was announced. The 15th world conference on climate change at Copenhagen resulted only in a weak accord. The government announced the creation of Infrastructure UK (IUK) to focus on renewal of Britain’s infrastructure including the low carbon transition. All homes in the UK will be fitted with smart electricity meters by 2020. Claims were made that the government suppressed recommendations on the effect of noise from wind farms. A secret report was submitted to ministers giving options for the route of High Speed Two, which is expected to cut through the Chilterns. A large number of consultations were launched as government departments shut down for Christmas and the New Year.

News for November 2009. Six draft National Policy Statements on energy (fossil fuels, renewables, oil and gas pipelines, transmission networks, nuclear, and one overarching statement) were issued for consultation. They will form the basis for planning decisions made by the Infrastructure Planning Commission from March 2010. DCLG announced that planning authorities should also take into account the NPSs, thereby extending their remit to below-threshold projects. The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 became law replacing regional spatial and economic strategies with single regional strategies led by the RDAs. The government announced proposals for a second wave of eco-towns including the Shoreham Harbour scheme in West Sussex. The government confirmed that all new houses will be zero carbon from 2016. Hilary Benn signed an order confirming the designation of the South Downs National Park. CPRE Norfolk made its 30th annual environmental awards. CABE launched a Grey to Green campaign calling for a shift in funding and skills from grey to green infrastructure. The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution said that light pollution is damaging to the natural environment and should be cut. Climategate erupted to the delight of climate sceptics. Environmental Protection UK said the government urgently needs to update its guidance on assessing the impact of noise from wind turbines. The CPRE Sussex called on the owners of Glyndebourne opera house not to go ahead with the wind turbine after new data show it will not generate as much power as forecast. Kent International Airport cut back its 25-year expansion plan because of the recession. An ICM survey painted a gloomy picture of life in rural England with 24% saying that the sense of community in their village has declined. The Campaign for Farmed Environment was launched. Gordon Garraway of CPRE Oxfordshire won the Marsh Award for his work on the Oxford Green Belt Way.

News for October 2009. Oxford City delayed its Core Strategy following CPRE Oxfordshire’s successful legal challenge to South East Plan. The Infrastructure Planning Commission started operating on 1 October. Chairman Sir Michael Pitt said it has hit the ground running and that "the obvious priority is around energy”. CPRE called on the IPC to be an environmental champion, an independent judge, a defender of democracy, and an efficient decision-maker. The Civic Society Initiative said "there is a high level of disquiet" about the draft PPS15 on Heritage. Natural England published a report showing that investment in the natural environment is critical to long term economic prosperity. CPRE announced it is to extend its tranquillity mapping to urban areas. Government ministers rejected calls for air flights over sensitive areas to be limited because "tranquillity is a subjective quality and as such can mean different things to different people”. E.ON announced that it has delayed plans to build a new 1940MW coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent, blaming the global recession. A coalition of countryside groups, including CPRE, called for better internet access in rural areas. The government announced a Working Group for Traditional Markets to champion street, covered and farmers markets. The Competition Commission recommended that a competition test be introduced for planning decisions on larger grocery stores. Countryside campaigner John Venning, Chairman of CPRE Hampshire dies. Protect Kent wins the Charity category of the KOS Media Business Challenge 2009.

News for September 2009. CPRE Oxfordshire is successful in its challenge to the SE Plan, forcing a rethink by the government on how Oxford should be expanded. Shadow communities secretary Caroline Spelman advised Tory run councils to delay major developments until the Conservatives get into power, and promised to give local people more say on wind farms. Dunsfold Park Ltd lost its appeal against a decision to block plans for a 2,600 home eco-development in Surrey. Hilary Benn announced a new 'landscape scale' approach to countryside where reserves will be connected to each other so that animals can roam freely. Defra launched a campaign to persuade people to save 20 litres of water a day each. CPRE was among eight environment groups that publish a manifesto on climate change and the natural environment, Common Cause: the Green Standard, ahead of the election. Professor David MacKay, newly appointed chief scientific adviser at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, warned that the UK will begin to run out of power within seven years because new energy sources are not being built fast enough. Oxfordshire County Council blocked an attempt to halt the Cogges Link road in Witney by lodging a last minute objection to town green status for part of the route. A report to Essex County Council revealed more than 60 ways that local authorities can improve rural life, including management of green space, energy policy and multifunctional use of buildings.

News for August 2009. Network Rail stole a march on High Speed Two (HS2) by publishing its case for a line from central London through Birmingham to Scotland. Researchers at the University of Manchester said nimbys do not exist. Arun District Council mounted a legal challenge to the South East Plan. Government statisticians said the UK is now the second most densely populated country in the world. CABE condemned many new homes for not having enough space for daily needs, including for storing recycling bins. The government declared 13,000 rural settlements protected areas where new shared ownership properties will always remain in shared ownership. The National Housing and Planning Advisory Unit singled out the South East for the highest growth in new homes, recommending building 53,800 new homes a year in the region. The National Trust said that plans to drill for oil in Bury Hill Wood, Surrey will have “unacceptable environmental impacts”. Green groups including CPRE won a High Court ruling that the case for a third runway must be heard in an open court. Defra produces a food security assessment, with the aim of securing food for a growing population and tackling climate change.

News for July 2009. Four eco-towns in Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Norfolk and Cornwall were given the government’s approval: Whitehill-Bordon, Hampshire; North West Bicester, Oxfordshire; Rackheath, Norfolk; St Austell, Cornwall. Ford and Weston Otmoor were amongst those rejected. CPRE welcomed the initial scaling back of the eco-towns programme but called for tougher eco standards. The government published the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan which plots how the UK will meet a cut in emissions of 34% on 1990 levels by 2020. CPRE welcomed the strategy saying “a renewable energy revolution in the UK is long overdue”. The Conservatives said that the Infrastructure Planning Commission will be incorporated into the Planning Inspectorate and will not be abolished after all. A new PPS15 Heritage (incorporating PPG16 archaeology) said planners should focus on the significant heritage of a place and not just protect all of it for its own sake. Natural England launched a consultation on guidance for its responses to wind farm applications. Plans for a wind farm in the South Downs National Park were scrapped after CPRE Hampshire and residents form the Stop the East Meon Windfarm Action Group. The biggest onshore wind farm in the South East of England on Romney Marsh was officially opened. Associated British Ports launched a consultation on a 20-year masterplan for Southampton port, including development of Dibden. The Conservatives launched its “Rural Action agenda” website, promising to protect rural post offices, allow villages to build low-cost housing, and give country communities more power to resist school closures and start new village schools, and much more. The government backed down from a compulsory replacement for set aside in favour of voluntary action by farmers. CPRE Kent launched its rebranding as Protect Kent.

News for June 2009. CPRE Oxfordshire began legal action against the South East Plan. A study published by CPRE said that an excess of greenfield land with planning permission can render brownfield development unviable. CPRE Wiltshire lost a High Court bid to force Swindon Council to deliver improvements for public transport, cyclists and pedestrians before new housing is occupied. Communities secretary John Denham refused permission for 975 homes in Berkshire because of the impact on the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. English Heritage said 1 in 7 conservation areas in England are at risk of neglect, decay or damaging change. The Environment Agency complained that planning authorities are approving developments in flood areas against its advice. Climate projections showed that by the 2080s, South East England could face an increase in average summer temperatures of between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius, and a 22% decrease in average summer rainfall. The government published its plans for developing clean coal, including carbon capture and storage. Thousands of campaigners linked arms to form a "Mili-Band" around Kingsnorth Power Station. CPRE claimed the government's new Road Safety Strategy could see a million new speed limit signs in the countryside. The National Housing Federation said 650 country pubs and 400 village shops will close over the next 12 months as traditional village life in Britain is plunged into terminal decline.

News for May 2009. A reshuffle saw the departure of Hazel Blears, and Geoff Hoon, the latter replaced by rail champion Lord Adonis. CPRE published its 2026 vision which said England can be a greener and even more pleasant land. The Civic Society Initiative was launched following the demise of the Civic Trust. Law and Your Environment, an online plain guide to environmental law is launched. Ten countryside projects received CPRE Sussex's first Countryside Awards. Former CPRE chairman Lord Kennet died. The East of England RSS was judged faulty in the High Court. The NHS decided to appeal against town green status for Oxford’s Warneford Meadow. The National Housing Federation said that a lack of affordable rural housing is leading to a rural exodus and launched its Save Our Villages campaign. The government announced that brownfield development and the density of housing was continuing to increase. CPRE launched a survey on the future use of the green belts surrounding London, Bristol and Bath and Merseyside. Film studio Pinewood Shepperton submitted plans for a £200m expansion on green belt land. Farmers and landowners launched the Campaign for the Farmed Environment. More than 2,000 people joined a march against the proposed Kent International Gateway development. The Commission for Rural Communities issued a new rural proofing toolkit.

News for April 2009. The government issued the final South East Plan promised to deliver 32,700 new homes each year until 2026. Reviews of the green belt were ordered for north-east Guildford and south of Oxford. CPRE Oxfordshire reacted furiously to a proposal for a urban extension in the green belt south of the city. Protect Kent said "Our response to the Plan is a muted sigh of relief because it could have been much worse". The draft PPS4 was published. Protect Kent took part in a march to protest at plans for the Kent International Gateway. A legal opinion obtained by CPRE cast doubt on the legality of the Government’s proposed policy on eco-towns. The Tories promised to remove the classification of gardens as brownfield land. Defra and the HCA launch the Rural Affordable Housing Project. Warneford Meadow in Oxford was given town green status after a campaign by CPRE Oxfordshire and residents. Natural England said it will extend the boundaries of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks "quickly, but thoroughly". Protect Kent chairman Richard Knox Johnson, complained that he was targeted by police intelligence teams ahead of the 2008 Kingsnorth power station protest. Police arrested 114 people believed to be planning direct action at a coal-fired power station at Ratcliffe-on-Soar. The government presented the world's first carbon budget which commited Britain to cut carbon emissions by 34% by 2020 and announceed extra tax breaks for North Sea oil. After the government published a study identifying three potential sites for a new crossing over the river Thames, Protect Kent said: "The environmental damage that would be caused by an additional crossing, wherever it is placed, would be immense”. The 2M Group of 23 borough councils joined CPRE, Transport for London, London mayor Boris Johnson, Greenpeace, WWF-UK and RSPB to launch a High Court challenge against the government's decision to build Heathrow’s third runway. A survey showed that more than half of Britons think the countryside is boring.

News for March 2009. Campaigners welcomed the latest national park, the South Downs, which includes the disputed Western Weald. CPRE called for national parks and AONBs to be extended and give stronger leadership on climate change. CPRE Sussex welcomed the government’s refusal of three housing application appeals at Uckfield. The government responded to the Killian Pretty Review promising to cut planning applications by 40%. CPRE Surrey went head to head with Friends of the Earth at the public inquiry over 2,600 homes at Dunsfold Park. North West Bicester, a rival eco-town to Weston Otmoor, was backed at a stormy meeting of councillors. The government announced planning restrictions in villages and small rural towns will be eased as recommended in the Taylor Review. Natural England predicted the country could become an “ecological desert” and called for the whole country to be managed as a "national parkland". CPRE Oxfordshire stepped up its "Hands Off Oxford's Green Belt" campaign. The Policy Exchange and CPRE called for deposit schemes as part of a drive to reduce litter. Sir Martin Doughty, chair of Natural England and countryside champion, died. CPRE formed an alliance calling for any new high-voltage lines to avoid protected landscapes. Climate change secretary, Ed Miliband said opposition to wind farms should become socially unacceptable. The RSPB gave its backing to wind farms. The Environment Agency published its Water Resources Strategy for England and Wales. Thames Water scaled down its plans for a 3.9 sq mile reservoir in Oxfordshire, blaming the recession. Campaigners lost their legal battle to block expansion of Stansted airport.

News for February 2009. The Conservatives launched a green paper promising to return power to local communities, and to abolish the IPC and Regional Spatial Strategies. The number of empty homes rose to 697,000. Ministers denied claims that the planning policy encourages development of gardens for housing. Pond Conservation launched a campaign for one million countryside ponds. The Tories backed ecological offsetting, which will give species a cash value. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers said the UK should prepare for significant loss of landmass from climate change. Four prominent UK greens backed nuclear power after decades of opposition. Natural England agreed not to object to Herefordshire wind turbines after the developer offered cash compensation. CPRE Oxfordshire said it was "disappointed but unsurprised" after councillors approve the Cogges Link Road at Witney. The government rejected a report on the rural economy from the Rural Advocate.

News for January 2009. Eco-towns dominated the news. Bard, fighting the proposed eco-town at Long Marston, Warwickshire, had its legal challenge rejected by the High Court. The number of households on local authority housing waiting lists hit 1.77 million. CPRE Kent stepped up its campaign against the Kent International Gateway. The Tories proposed an "electricity internet", with a smart grid distributing micro-generated power and smart meters for reducing consumption. Ministers announced a shortlist of five schemes to generate electricity from the tidal Severn. Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon announced the go-ahead for the third runway at Heathrow and Boris Johnson called for a new airport in the Thames estuary. Hoon also announced a new company, High Speed 2, will develop a proposal for a new line between London and Birmingham. CPRE Oxfordshire and others launched a town green application to block the Cogges Link Road. Small market towns suffered as up to half their shops closed.

News for December 2008.

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