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CPRE unveils how the countryside holds key to tackling the climate emergency

CPRE, the countryside charity, has called for a radical rethink of the role of the countryside in tackling the climate emergency.

The charity is calling for the countryside to be at the forefront of climate action so that rural communities do not bear the brunt of the climate emergency in its new report: ‘Greener, better, faster: countryside solutions to the climate emergency and for a green recovery'. The report sets out how the countryside can be at the centre of the transformation to a net-zero society, to make sure we tackle the climate emergency in a way that benefits people living and working in rural communities. 

‘Greener, better, faster’ was launched at a virtual panel discussion with Rebecca Pow MP, Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Luke Pollard MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle, Former Leader of the Green Party; and Freddie Northcott, youth climate activist in attendance. 

CPRE believes that the countryside is key to tackling the climate emergency and provides many of the solutions to addressing climate breakdown. ‘Greener, better, faster’ sets out how the government can best achieve this and recommends: 

·       Farming:  Introduce an action plan for the land use sector to rapidly re-wet and restore peatland, expand woodland and agroforestry, drive uptake of agroecological practices to boost soil health and drive down emissions from inefficient use of synthetic nutrients;

·       Hedgerows: Invest in the restoration and planting of England’s hedgerows, to achieve at least a 40% increase in their length by 2050 (The design of the proposed Nature for Climate Fund and Nature Recovery Network Fund, along with the Environmental Land Management Scheme, should include measures to deliver more hedgerows across the nation); 

·       Planning and building: Radically tighten up building regulations to ensure that new buildings meet zero carbon standards. Existing buildings should also meet zero carbon standards in terms of heat and space;

·       Energy: Invest in a new generation of renewables, including solar, wind and hydro that are strategically planned at the national, sub-regional and local levels. This should be done in a way that benefits the rural economy, forming a cornerstone of local enterprise and jobs; is supported by or owned by local communities; brings net benefits to wildlife; and minimises impacts on landscape, tranquillity and cultural heritage and; 

·       Transport: Divert £27 billion planned road spend to a ring-fenced rural transport fund to support low carbon public transport services for rural communities that need to be better connected.

In Cheshire, as well as our longstanding campaigns on hedgerows, we are working with volunteers and partners to promote the ideals of the #GreenerBetterFaster campaign, initially working alongside Chester Churches and Pilgrims, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Chester Zoo, University, and other local groups involved in sustainability, cycling and walking, plastic reduction, recycling, anti fracking and community energy, towards the ‘Our Journey Towards Sustainability’ exhibition at Chester Cathedral (which was to take place in May 2020 but has been postponed owing to the coronavirus).

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said: 

‘Whatever breathing space we had to tackle the climate emergency has already been used up. But some of the best ways to reduce our emissions also make our countryside more resilient, so let’s harness the awesome power of our countryside and rural communities to tackle the climate emergency head-on. That means properly investing in rural public transport, delivering renewables sensitively and investing in nature-based solutions like peatland restoration and hedgerows. 

‘The PM’s ‘build, build,build’ strategy fell far short of this – the government cannot continue to ignore public support for building back better, including for enhancing and protecting countryside and green spaces. That’s why we’re calling on the Chancellor to go further to ensure that, in recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, we get on a path to net-zero. Let’s harness the power of the countryside instead of locking in larger carbon emissions. Only then will we be going greener, better, faster.’

The full text of ‘Greener, better, faster’ can be found here: https://bit.ly/3gtxRgo  

CPRE is the countryside charity that campaigns to promote, enhance and protect the countryside for everyone’s benefit, wherever they live. With a local CPRE in every county, we work with communities, businesses and government to find positive and lasting ways to help the countryside thrive - today and for generations to come.   

Founded in 1926, President: Emma Bridgewater, Patron: Her Majesty The Queen. www.cpre.org.uk   

For more information on CPRE’s position go to our website to view our manifesto in full:    

https://www.cpre.org.uk/   

For more information about the Cheshire local group of CPRE, visit our website: www.cprecheshire.org.uk

 

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