Landscape under threat
A DAMNING verdict on the future of the English landscape was published today by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
It says that 40% of our countryside has already been changed for the worse - but the future prospect is even more depressing for special areas such as the Yorkshire Dales.
The CPRE is commenting on a survey from the newly created Natural England called Tracking Change in the Character of the English Landscape which, claims the CPRE, suggests that massive changes are underway in the way the countryside looks.
"The acknowledgement that almost 40% of our landscapes are changing for the worse is a sad indictment of past decisions, but this is nothing by comparison with what awaits us unless we act now," said Tom Oliver, the campaign's head of rural policy.
"If 40% of our hospitals or schools were suffering from serious neglect or damaging change, people would rightly be alarmed and wanting answers.
"As it is, there are signs that the Government could make matters much worse for our treasured landscapes if its recent proposals on planning and development are carried through.
"Natural England's important survey shows how vulnerable the English countryside is to unfettered economic development and poorly sited major infrastructure."
He added: "This report is of great importance. It shows that we're at a turning point: do we let much of the countryside become a free fire zone for developers, whether they are building industrial sheds, roads, runways, wind farms or sprawling suburbs?
"Or do we take notice of the evidence that if we want, we can have social and economic benefits without losing one of England's greatest assets, its fabulous countryside?"