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CPRE Herefordshire Press Releases

Welcome to CPRE Herefordshire’s Press Release page.

Post-Brexit hot topic for local countryside charity’s AGM

10th October 2016

The Herefordshire Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is holding its Annual General Meeting this weekend, Saturday 15th October 2016 at 2pm at Weobley Village Hall  HR4 8SN.

HCPRE’s speaker this year is Richard Priestley, with the presentation: ‘Post Brexit – what future for Herefordshire’s Countryside?’. ‘It is important to begin considering the future of the county’s landscapes’, said HCPRE spokesman Bob Widdowson. ‘We have already seen planning applications being allowed at appeal, due to the lack of a five-year housing supply. European legislation currently provides significant protections and we would wish to see the UK government guarantee that this protection would be retained should the UK leave the EU."

Whatever happens post-Brexit, HCPRE will continue to lobby for sustainable practice and effective land use. Information on CPRE’s work New Model Farming, Dark Skies and Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDPs) will be on display at the AGM, all of which are important in our rural county. Herefordshire not only has, on average, the darkest skies in England but also a large proportion of the County’s Parishes have engaged with the NDP process.

There will be opportunity to continue the discussion after the presentation, over light refreshments.
Members of the public are welcome, please email admin@cpreherefordshire.org.uk if you wish to attend. The AGM papers are available at http://cpreherefordshire.org.uk/about-us/meeting-dates.aspx

Herefordshire enjoys the Darkest Skies in England

19th June 2016

New interactive maps offer most detailed ever picture of England’s light pollution and dark skies.
The most detailed ever satellite maps of England’s light pollution and dark skies, today released by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), have shown that  Herefordshire has on average the darkest skies of any of the counties in England [1].
The maps, produced using satellite images captured at 1.30 am throughout September 2015, show that although Herefordshire is the darkest county in England on average, when considering which counties have the highest percentage of pristine night skies, free of light pollution, Herefordshire slips down to the 3rd darkest county.

Herefordshire County Council started a street light improvement programme in 2008 following concerns over electricity costs, light pollution and the need to reduce carbon emissions. In early 2016, the project to replace the majority of the 12,000 council-owned lights with LEDs was completed, with around 9,000 street lights included in a dimming programme. The project has cost £7 million and will save an estimated £16 million in energy and maintenance costs over 20 years.

Herefordshire CPRE recommends that:

  • Herefordshire County Council develops a policy on light pollution, especially regarding new developments.
  • The Council uses CPRE's maps to inform decisions on local planning applications and identify individual facilities that should be asked to dim or switch off unnecessary lights.
  • Local businesses review their current lighting and future development plans to save money by dimming or switching off light to reduce pollution.

CPRE is calling on Herefordshire County Council to use these maps to identify areas with severe light pollution and target action to reduce it, as well as identifying existing dark skies that need protecting.

To the south-west of the county lies the world’s 5th Dark Skies Reserve, the Brecon Beacons National Park.
New research comes at a time of increasing awareness of the harmful effects light pollution can have on the health of people and wildlife. That these skies were monitored at 1.30am illustrates just how long into the night England’s lighting spills.
The new maps were produced by Land Use Consultants from data gathered by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in America. The NOAA satellite captured visible and infrared imagery to determine the levels of light spilling up into British skies. CPRE is sending lesson plans to primary schools in order to promote the enjoyment of dark skies.

HCPRE Spokesman Bob Widdowson said:
"Herefordshire Council has undertaken some positive work on reducing the glow from street lighting between 2008 and 2016. However, we are receiving complaints from ounty residents that some new housing developments have lighting thast has a strong impact on local residents and the county's night skies. Therefore, although ti is good news that our county has amongst the darkest skies in England, we still have work to do."

Emma Marrington, senior rural policy campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said:
"Our view of the stars os obscured by artificial light, Many children in urban areas may not have seen the Milky Way, our own galaxy, due to the veil of light that spreads accross their night skies. Councils can reduce light levels through better planning and with investment in the right stree lighting that is used only where and when it is needed.. Our Night Blight maps show where peolpe can expect to find a truly dark, starry sky. The benefits of dark skies, for health education and tourism, are now being recognised, with areas such as the South Downs National Park, receiving international Dark Skies Reserve status. Dark skies are a key characteristic of what makes the countryside so different from urban areas."

 

Local CPRE branch helps Parish Councils to protect their countryside

15th June 2015

The Herefordshire branch of CPRE (the Campaign to Protect Rural England) is holding an open meeting for Parish Councils and HCPRE Members on Friday 26th June. The topic will be on how Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDPs) can be used to enhance and protect local landscape.   Bob Widdowson of HCPRE said “We have been approached by several Parish Councils asking for our comments on their draft NDP. We realised there is need for information on how the plans can be used by those who wish to protect their local landscapes”

While NDPs can address issues such as housing sites, play areas and other local amenities they can also protect and conserve open spaces which are important to local communities and arerecognised for their beauty, amenity, wildlife and/or recreational value. “Given that very little of Herefordshire’s landscape is protected, e.g. AONB or National Park,Neighbourhood Plans have a key role in protecting landscapes that are valued by local communities from development” said Bob Widdowson. 
The HCPRE event will be held at Breinton Village Hall (HR4 7PJ) on 26th June, 7.30pm until 9.30pm. Presentations will be made by the Chairs of both Breinton and Leominster NDP Steering Groups contrasting rural and urban areas.
The event is free for Parish Council representatives and CPRE members

Join the 2014 Star Count in Herefordshire. Be the lucky person to win a telescope!

24th February 2014

Herefordshire CPRE & the Herefordshire Astronomical Society are asking county residents to take part in the 2014 Star Count, which this year partners with National Astronomy Week. Run jointly by CPRE and the British Astronomical Association, the count runs from Wednesday 26th February to Saturday 8th March.The results, which are submitted online, are used to map the spread of light pollution across the country & this year there is a prize of a Celestron Astromaster telescope on offer.

“Herefordshire borders the world’s 5th Dark Sky Reserve, the Brecon Beacon National Park, designated in 2013, and it would be valuable if residents from all over Herefordshire could participate in the Star Count. You do not need a telescope or any special equipment”. Participants are asked to count how many stars they can see by eye, within the constellation of Orion. People can also sign up to a Star Count reminder email.
Seeing more than thirty stars within Orion means you’re lucky enough to have truly dark skies; fewer than ten indicates severe light pollution. Light pollution has many effects on people & wildlife, even in this most rural of counties and there have long been concerns that children will grow up without seeing both the Milky Way and the true beauty of the night sky. More information and how to take part is available at http://www.cpreherefordshire.org.uk/issues/light-pollution/star-count.aspx.

Herefordshire CPRE calls for county residents to sign up to the Countryside Charter

25th January 2014

As the evidence mounts that Government planning reforms are not working the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) have launched a three point charter to ‘Save our Countryside’. “A charter is an ancient way of letting ordinary people set out a list of demands as a way of petitioning rulers or Governments. It’s a simple way to distil the crucial elements of a campaign and highlight the most important issues”, explained Richard Williams, spokesperson for Herefordshire CPRE.


HCPRE believes that unsustainable and increasing pressure is being placed on the countryside, and sensible planning is undermined by short-sighted pursuit of economic growth at any cost. “A beautiful countryside, better places to live and economic prosperity all rely on good planning, which in turn depends on giving people a proper say in what development should go where. We therefore ask county residents to sign up to the Countryside Charter’’.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was intended to simplify planning and get houses built but the reforms have not delivered the housing people need, and are instead causing harm to communities and landscapes. 
In the current economic climate ‘landbanking’ has become a significant issue. Essentially, this means that while planning permissions are being granted for new housing, they are not being built. In 2013 the Local Government Association found that there were approximately 400,000 planning permissions that had not yet been built.

Countryside charity deems Core Strategy lacking in substance

13th May 2013

Herefordshire Council's Core Strategy consultation document fails to demonstrate how its aspirations will be acheived according to volunteers from the Herefordshire Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). In its response HCPRE says, "The Delivery Plan does not give an accurate picture of overall funding needs, or the relative importance of the various infrastructure, or the timing and risks of delivery. There is a lack of information on the relationship between specific infrastructure and housing and policies.

HCPRE says that the Plan should provide costs and assumed funding sources, even if provisional, for the total infrastructure provision and for all individual items where it is not commercially confidentioal. Without this it is impossible to judge how realistic the Council's plans are.
While there are many aspects of the Core Strategy that HPCRE is agreed on, the charity questions whether the proposals provide adequate protection for the county's landscape and environmental assets. For example, the lack of any reference to safeguarding high quality agricultural land or any linkage with national policy guidance that recognises "the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside".
"Unless more rigorous policies are in place, Herefordshire is vulnerable to developers exploiting the more lax National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) system that came into law in 2012" said Bob Widdowson, HCPRE chair. In October 2011 CPRE Herefordshire warned that "Herefordshire will be left almost defenceless against unwanted development on green fields. We fear a free for all, where developers and their lawyers will exploit gaps in planning policy".

Local countryside charity announces new web-based countryside forum

11th November 2012

The Herefordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England held their Annual General Meeting on 3rd November 2012. The event was well attended by members and guests, who learnt of the launch of CPRE Herefordshire’s new web-based countryside forum. Attendees were informed & entertained by the two speakers, who explored the lack of AONBs in Herefordshire (79% of the county is unprotected).

In 2011, CPRE Herefordshire identified that there was no ‘space’ where people could come together & discuss countryside issues that concern them, such as transport, light pollution, hedgerows etc. The charity has therefore developed this forum with the aim to provide that space for concerned individuals or groups to discuss countryside issues with others. The forum can be found by following the link from the charity’s website http://www.cpreherefordshire.org.uk or by visiting http://forum.cpreherefordshire.org.uk directly.

CPRE Herefordshire urges public to 'count the stars'

16th January 2012

CPRE Herefordshire is urging the public to go out and star gaze, for Star Count week 2012 (20th - 27th Jan 2012), part of a nationwide count, in association with the Astronomical Association's Campaign for Dark Skies. "We are once again asking people to count stars within the constellation of Orion, which will be visible in the southern sky" (the same direction that household satellite dishes face), said CPRE Chair Bob Widdowson.

Star Count week 2012 is a follow up to the Star Count initiatives run by CPRE and CfDS in 2007 and again in 2011, when almost 2,200 people across the country took part. If there are poor visibility conditions during that week due to weather then CPRE will re-run the Star Count Week from Monday 17th - 24th February 2012. More information on the Star Count can be found at: http://www.cpreherefordshire.org.uk/site/CPREStarCount.htm

" The best time to perform the count, to allow for children taking part, is after 7pm when it is fully dark. Four bright stars bound the main area of the constellation. The star count should not include these four corner stars – only those within this rectangular boundary – but do include the stars in the middle known as Orion's three-star belt." Participants are asked to count the stars, as seen with the naked eye, rather than through telescopes or binoculars, and then enter the information onto an electronic form on the national CPRE website: http://www.cpre.org.uk/what-we-do/countryside/dark-skies

CPRE plan to continue to use the results to illustrate how light pollution levels are affecting people’s views of the night sky. "Light pollution damages the character of the countryside, blurs the distinction between town and country and denies people the experience of a dark, starry sky - many children may never see the Milky Way". The Government's 2011 Natural Environment White Paper noted, "There is evidence of potential ecological impacts from artificial light". But this isn't just about the effect on stargazing or countryside. 83 per cent of respondents in a 2010 survey stated that their view of the night sky is marred by light pollution. Of those, 50 per cent report a disturbance to sleep patterns. Councils spend a collective £532 million on street lighting each year and the lights can account for around 5-10 per cent of a council’s carbon emissions.

The costs of not acting are clear: unnecessarily high energy bills for councils and therefore for local taxpayers, more carbon emissions, more sleep disruption, further disturbance to wildlife and a night sky bereft of stars. Some local authorities are already taking action to tackle light pollution in their areas; we need more to do the same.

Silence of the plans risks building horror story in Herefordshire

12th October 2011

New research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) suggests that Herefordshire will be vulnerable to a planning free-for-all under the new national planning regime the government intends to introduce in April 2012

Herefordshire CPRE Chair, Bob Widdowson says: “ Herefordshire has yet to complete its Core Strategy, the master plan for development in the county. The new planning framework is being introduced at the beginning of next year. With no Core Strategy in place the more lax national planning rules will apply. Herefordshire will be left almost defenceless against unwanted development on green fields.”

“We fear a free for all where developers and their lawyers will exploit gaps in planning policy. We worry that developers who are planning schemes will take advantage of councillors' uncertainty about the new system and bulldoze unneeded schemes through.

Nationally almost half of England's local authorities (48 per cent) will be without a planning Core Strategy on 1 April 2012 when changes to the planning system are expected to take effect. This means that nearly half the country will be very vulnerable to unplanned, poor quality development. A fifth of Core Strategies (18 per cent) are still likely to be missing a year after the new guidance comes into force.

Countryside Charity poses key questions for candidates prior to county elections

28th March 2011

Prior to May's elections, CPRE Herefordshire is inviting its members and Herefordshire electors to ask candidates for county, parish and town councils to consider seven questions on key issues for the future of Herefordshire's countryside.

Quality housing, the planning system and future use of agricultural land are just some of the issues highlighted in a document available to download.  CPRE Herefordshire Chair, Bob Widdowson said "On 5th May Herefordshire elects a new Council and new councils across the county. The new Herefordshire Council will inherit critical planning decisions affecting everyone in the county and with major implications for the countryside. All candidates at a parish or county level need to be aware of the issues that concern CPRE."

Volunteers have worked hard to draft the document, which calls on candidates to give a considered response regarding the future of Herefordshire; now more important than ever, given the proposed changes to the planning system at a national level. The document puts forward proposals by CPRE Herefordshire whereby sustainable development may be achieved whilst retaining the character of the county's landscape, both rural and urban.

CPRE Herefordshire urges public to 'count the stars'

31st December 2010

CPRE Herefordshire is urging the public to go out and count stars for Star Count Week 2011, (31st Jan - 6th Feb 2011) as part of a nationwide count, in association with the Astronomical Association's Campaign for Dark Skies.

"We are asking people to count stars within the constellation of Orion, which will be visible in the southern sky" (the same direction that household satellite dishes face) said CPRE Chair Bob Widdowson. Star Count 2011 is a follow up to the Star Count initiative run by CPRE in winter 2006/07, when over 2,000 people across the country took part.

"The best time to view Orion is at around 9pm but, should children wish to take part, the best time to perform the count is after 7pm when it is fully dark. Four bright stars bound the main constellation. The star count should not include these four corner stars - only those within this rectangular boundary - but do include the stars in the middle, known as Orion's three-star belt." Participants are asked to count the stars, as seen with the naked eye, rather than through telescopes or binoculars, and then enter the information onto an electronic form on the national CPRE website: www.cpre.org.uk/starcount (which is expected to be 'live' from 10th January 2011).

CPRE plan to use the results to produce a Star Count map of the country, which will illustrate how light pollution levels are affecting people's views of the night sky. "Light pollution damages the character of the countryside, blurs the distinction between town and country and denies people the experience of a dark, starry sky. But this isn't just about the effect on stargazing or countryside. Light pollution can disrupt wildlife and badly affect people's sleeping patterns." Councils spend a collective £532 million on street lighting each year and the lights can account for around 5-10 percent of a council's carbon emissions. Some local authorities are already taking action to tackle light pollution in their areas; we need more to do the same.

If there are poor visibility conditions during that week due to weather, then CPRE will re-run the Star Count Week from Monday 28th February until Sunday 6th March 2011. More information on the Star Count can be found at: www.cpreherefordshire.org.uk/site/CPREStarCount

Countryside charity calls for 'flawed' polytunnel decision to be reversed

1st November 2010

A recent decision by Herefordshire Council to permit polytunnels at Kings Caple, in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is 'seriously flawed' states local charity CPRE Herefordshire. Herefordshire Councillors overturned the Planning Officer's recommendation that the application should be refused, voting 9 to 8 in favour of the application, despite being contrary to both the local Unitary Development Plan and National Policy.

CPRE Herefordshire is disappointed with the committee's decision. Bob Widdowson, Branch Chair, said, "This is a poor decision, based on unsound reasoning, which will only further blight this beautiful area of Herefordshire and impact on tourism in the area. We are astounded that the Council would pass such an application."

CPRE Herefordshire has written to the Planning Minister, Greg Clark MP, asking him to investigate if there are grounds to have this decision Called in, or revoked. Over the last few years the amount of plastic covering the fields of Herefordshire to produce unseasonable fruit has grown at an alarming rate. "We accept that farmers have not had an easy time but we must look at sustainable routes forward for the county, which do not include covering it in plastic."