Archive for April, 2014

No more wind farms?

The Conservatives have announced that if they win the election they will end subsidies for new onshore wind farms and give local authorities greater powers to reject them. The policy is unpopular with most environmentalists (‘this is dog whistle politics, which is about tribal identity not policy integrity’, tweeted Matthew Spencer, Director of Green Alliance) but many CPRE branches will welcome it.


CPRE recognises ‘that onshore wind can contribute to meeting the UK’s requirements from renewable sources’. Some CPRE branches have opposed nearly all proposed wind farms in their area, but others have courted unpopularity by supporting schemes where they perceived that their impact on the landscape was outweighed by the contribution they would make to wider environmental goals. Onshore wind has been a very contentious issue within CPRE, and we have never been as opposed to it as many ultras outside the organisation would like.


But scepticism within CPRE has grown, mirroring the wider disenchantment with onshore wind (particularly among country people) that has led to this new Conservative Party policy. Continue reading ‘No more wind farms?’

Book of the Month: The Seasons by Nick Groom

Below is my column from this month’s Countryman. It is a review, of sorts, of Nick Groom’s wonderful The Seasons: an elegy for the passing year. The book is a celebration of English customs (and customs in England) and has an interesting discussion of St. George’s Day, celebrated today with discounts on gin and bitter in pubs across the land. Continue reading ‘Book of the Month: The Seasons by Nick Groom’

Too few homes built, too much countryside lost

I have an article in this week’s Country Life about the impact of the Government’s planning reforms. I was not going to reproduce it as I have already blogged about CPRE’s recent report, but I was irritated to read Nick Boles’s comment in a recent House of Commons debate that ‘some of the claims made in the recent report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England were simply false and based on a spurious reading of very partial evidence’. I have written to Nick asking him to substantiate that claim. In the meantime, it is worth repeating again: although the Government has made some welcome improvements to planning policy recently, much more needs to be done if the countryside is going to be protected from unnecessary damage. Here is my article.


The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is two years old, and proving to be a rather trying toddler. It was introduced with the aim of simplifying the planning system and putting local people in control. More houses would be built, we were told, but they would be built with consent, not imposed from above.

The reality has been rather different. Continue reading ‘Too few homes built, too much countryside lost’