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Tony Blair's "failed promise" - CPRE

[Thursday 10 May 2007]
Tony Blair
Blair failed countryside say CPRE

DEPARTING Prime Minister Tony Blair has failed on his early promise to care for the countryside, according to a dismal "end of term" report on his ten years in office from the highly regarded Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Like many other bodies, the CPRE was impressed with the Prime Minister's early promises - but concludes that he has failed to deliver on some of the most important ones.

Says Neil Sinden, CPRE's Policy Director: "Tony Blair promised much on the environment in his early years at the helm, with a commitment to putting the environment at the heart of policy-making.

"His emphasis on climate change, and preparedness to give a lead on international action to tackle it, has been welcome. So has his boldness in fighting for meaningful reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, helping to secure a shift in the nature of the subsidy regime. However, he has failed to make as big an impact as hoped for on the wider environmental agenda.

'The future of the countryside is intimately linked to the health of our towns and cities. We have seen significant progress with the renewal of many urban areas, proposals for two new National Parks, and an extension of public access. But there has not been enough recognition of the value of the wider countryside, as an environmental and cultural asset, and as a major contributor to everyone's quality of life, whether living in town or country."

Mr Sinden concluded: "Good intentions on integrated transport, in both urban and rural areas, have not translated into a major shift onto public transport, and away from the car.

"And Downing Street's sporadic interest in reform of the planning system, under pressure from the business sector, has been largely negative, undermining its role as a democratic tool for environmental protection and enhancement, and frustrating many concerned with genuinely sustainable development.'

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