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Could a 'Tranquillity Map' of The UK Help Protect The Countryside?

Posted on June 18, 2015 by James

As urban sprawl continues to grow, it has never been more important to implement countryside saving measures.

New research conducted by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has emphasised this, stating: “Plans for new infrastructure and other development threaten to overwhelm new areas and further shrink and fragment the remaining reserves of tranquillity in the countryside”.

The research highlighted how behind local authorities are in conforming to the instructions given in 2012, under the Coalition Government’s planning reforms, to identify and protect peaceful areas. The research showed that out of the 69 planning authorities and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) surveyed, many simply do not have enough data to gauge how much of an impact infrastructure is having on the British countryside.

Indeed, of those surveyed, three-quarters had no existing policy on the issue, nor did they plan to implement one. To help combat this issue, CPRE suggested a national “tranquillity map” of England should be developed. Of those surveyed, 90% were in favour of such a map being created.

A new tranquillity map would follow on from CPRE’s own tranquillity map, which it developed in 2007. However, CPRE’s data and thus the map is now severely outdated. An updated tranquillity map, sponsored by the Government, would therefore provide local councils with accurate knowledge of where the most tranquil spots in their areas are, thus increasing the chances of these areas being better protected from development.

CPRE’s research strongly suggested that in order for the map to succeed, an official definition of tranquillity needed to be developed by Ministers, in addition to a scientific indicator which would allow accurate measuring across Great Britain.

CPRE’s own research defines tranquillity as a valuable “natural resource” where people would be able to “take a peaceful walk, cycle or ramble in tranquil countryside or hike along a national trail”. The report emphasised the importance of such areas, stating that they add “immeasurably to many people’s quality of life” and allow people to “get away from the pressures of modern life and recharge our batteries.”

The ‘Give Peace a Chance’ report stated that all too often too much focus is placed on the benefits that countryside developments can have, i.e. jobs and the overall economic benefits, and too little focus is placed on the positive impact that unspoilt countryside can have on people all over the country.

In the report CPRE recommended that “design panels” should be set up by infrastructure providers to enable the impact of future developments to be more thoroughly studied. CPRE also advised on a number of ways that the environmental impact of existing infrastructure could be reduced, such as: using noise-reducing tarmac and low-impact lighting, as well as installing power lines underground.

CPRE’s reinforcing of the issue of protecting our countryside comes at a time when the Conservative Party is under pressure to honour the commitment made in their manifesto to: “build new infrastructure in an environmentally-sensitive way” and “in a way that limits, as far as possible, their impact on the environment”.

Our areas of wilderness and natural beauty need to be protected, not least because it is incredibly important to the overall health of the environment but because these areas are crucial to our own health too. There are many stunning, tranquil areas of countryside in Britain and they all provide us with places of retreat; somewhere we can relax, free our minds and just enjoy the natural peacefulness and beauty of nature.

The great British countryside holds many natural wonders to behold, as well as many fabulous country houses and spas to explore, so don’t wait a moment longer. If you’re feeling inspired to make the most of the wonderful sights and sounds of Great Britain as they are right now, why not take action and book yourself a little country break?

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