IN ONE of the most devastating attacks ever launched on Government policies towards rural areas, the Campaign to Protect Rural England today claims that most of Britain's countryside will have disappeared by the year 2035 - a single generation away.
The 60,000 member CPPRE, one of England's oldest and most respected conservation bodies, has repeatedly attacked the Government over plans to build millions more houses on greenfield sites for other developments like rapidly expanding airports.
But for the first time, it has gathered all its objections together in a report issued today called Your countryside, your choice and it has primed some very big guns indeed to fire a crushing salvo across the Government's bows.
They include the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, who says: "I urge everyone to read this report and join in the debate. It is one of the most important of our time."
Under the headline "Countryside on the road to ruin?" the report lists what it says are "severe threats" to the countryside as we know it. They are:
- A greatly expanded house-building programme with the land speculation that would go with this;
- A huge expansion of road freight distribution and car-dependent development with associated noise and loss of tranquillity;
- Major airport expansion, both nationally and regionally with associated infrastructure; and
- A dramatic decline in farming, leading to ever more polarised land management: either more intensely farmed or abandoned.
As part of their new campaign, the CPRE is launching a nationwide competition to find the most inspiring vision of the future English countryside. For details, see www.cpre.org.uk