Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty under threat

Permaculture magazine
Monday, 4th July 2011

Nuclear plants, motorways and pylons might soon be allowed in our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, warns CPRE

The week begins with the Campaign to Protect Rural England claiming that the Government is now discussing the possibility that new nuclear plants, airport runways and new roads and motorways might encroach into the UK's 38 designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Last year, the home of Permaculture magazine, here at The Sustainability Centre on the South Downs, was upgraded from one of those Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to that of the UK's 15th National Park, after 60 years of campaigning. Since the mid-1940s there had been increasing calls for the South Downs to receive better protection and increased funding for its wildlife habitats and pathways.

So - is this the way to go in the new struggle to keep our beauty spots beautiful and our wild places wild - to fight for national park status for our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty? Or perhaps to enshrine tighter legislation for them in the first place?

Either way, it's a tough battle - we'd be interested in your thoughts. In particular, how we balance the tricky need for renewable energy with the need to preserve sensitive landscapes - the CPRE report lists a number of wind farms as potential threats, but we hardly imagine they'd want to see nuclear replacements for those wind farms.

Patrick Whitefield's The Living Landscape is a good place to start if you're interested in landscape issues - the book shows you how to read the landscape and looks at what you can expect to find in woods, grasslands, heath, moor, wetlands, hedgerows and waysides.