As this year grows to a close, I want to thank you for the support you’ve given to CPRE this year and remind us all of some of the challenges faced and successes celebrated. And it’s thanks to your support that we have achieved those campaign successes, both long and short-term.
We started the year with a big win for our planning campaign after the government backed down on their plans and instead committed to any new system having ‘effective local engagement at its heart’.
There was also another important U-turn in the autumn with prime minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to re-instate the fracking moratorium after more than 80,000 people signed our petition for a re-think. And we finished the year with a resounding victory when it was announced communities would have more say on local housing targets. Now we’re looking to push home our vision for the planning system in the new year, as the Levelling Up Bill goes through parliament.
A particularly satisfying achievement for CPRE was seeing the impact of a campaign won more than a decade ago and pioneered by the CPRE local group in South Yorkshire and the Peak District, to put power lines underground in iconic landscapes, as pylons tumbled in Dorset and the Peak District. When the will is there, we can protect our beautiful countryside and support energy infrastructure.
Some of our most cheering gatherings this year have been around our hedgerow work. We invited the then environment secretary George Eustice to join us at CPRE Oxfordshire’s hedge-laying project in Watlington and now have 82 MPs signed up to be hedgerow heroes supporting our call for the government to set a target to increase our hedgerow network by 40% by 2050.
Twelve of our local groups have won funding to carry out planting and restoration projects, as well as working with their communities to spread the word on the value of hedgerows. They and many others joined with us to celebrate National Hedgerow Week in October with nearly 50,000 of you signing our petition hedgerow petition that was delivered to Defra.
We also took the chance to create an exhibition in the Houses of Parliament for MPs to find out more about our work. And just this month we launched our farmer’s survey on hedgerows in the House of Commons – showing that nearly nine out of ten respondents saw hedgerows are important to them and their business and wanting more support to manage them.
We couldn’t have achieved any of this without the backing of dedicated campaigners, like you. Thank you for all you do.
With best wishes,
Interim Chief Executive | CPRE The countryside charity
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