Azara Blog: British countryside allegedly under threat

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Date published: 2005/06/08

The BBC says:

"Park and ride" schemes are shifting traffic and related pollution problems from urban areas into the countryside, rural campaigners have warned.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) estimates 40 towns and cities in England operate park and ride schemes.

The schemes encourage people to leave their cars on the outskirts of centres.

A CPRE spokesman said: "Increasingly large areas of countryside are being buried under tarmac in the name of sustainable transport."

The CPRE is releasing the findings of a survey into park and ride schemes at a conference on Thursday.

Comments to be made by Paul Hamblin, CPRE's head of transport policy, were released ahead of the conference.

He said park-and-ride posed a "leading threat" to Green Belts.

"If this continues, every major town in England will have a necklace of car parks around it and it won't be a pretty sight," he said.

"We need to reduce traffic levels overall and improve public transport closer to where people live to provide genuine transport choices."

Spokeswoman Anne Robinson from the CPRE told BBC Radio Four's Today programme the schemes were "trashing" the countryside.

"Park and ride results in large green field sites, if not greenbelt, being covered in tarmac and then you get the intrusion of the traffic," she said.

Of course the Park and Ride schemes move pollution from cities to the countryside, that was their entire point. But the idea that "large areas of countryside are being buried under tarmac" is ridiculous. Take Cambridge. There are five Park and Rides. One, Cowley Road, is next to a sewage farm and in the midst of a business park. The other four (Madingley Road, Newmarket Road, Babraham Road and Trumpington) have been carved out of the greenbelt. How much greenbelt has been lost? Perhaps 50 acres. That leaves only a few tens of thousands of acres still to go in the Cambridge region. Most of the traffic approaching these Park and Rides in the past would have done the same journey except continuing on into Cambridge. Hardly a great "intrusion of traffic". The CPRE of course has to constantly justify its existence with these silly scare stories.

(Which is not to say that there are not problems with the Park and Ride. It is not that family friendly since buses are not that family friendly. From the north there is only one relatively accessible Park and Ride, at Cowley Road, because of the lack of a southbound exit off the M11 at J13. There should be Park and Rides out along Huntingdon Road and Histon Road and Barton Road. And the Babraham Park and Ride should be located on the Addenbrooke's Hospital site, with a decent new access road, but that was considered politically incorrect by the Cambridge ruling elite. And the Trumpington Park and Ride should be a shopping centre, so that people don't have to trudge all the way into Cambridge, but that was considered politically incorrect by the Cambridge ruling elite.)

Unfortunately the CPRE has been particularly busy with their moaning this week (this time with help from some of the other usual suspects). The BBC says:

Government plans for a new rural watchdog may not protect the countryside from damage, environmental pressure groups have warned.

The bill to set up Natural England - a body to replace English Nature and the Countryside Agency - will be debated in the Commons on Monday.

Ministers say the bill will create a powerful champion for conservation.

But green groups say it puts economic concerns such as promoting recreation ahead of environmental protection.

Friends of the Earth, the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) and the Wildlife and Woodland Trusts say the bill puts too much emphasis on promoting access.
The groups want a clause in the bill to make sure if there is a clash over conservation and commercial concerns that environmentally protective measures would take precedence.

Landowners say this is naive, adding the countryside will only thrive if rural businesses are healthy.

Well you can't possibly have the peasants having access to the countryside, or landowners getting to manage their land as they see fit. Whatever next? Obviously the unelected, unaccountable, chattering class theoreticians (FoE, CPRE, etc.) know best.

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