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Countryside holds key to tackling the climate emergency

8th July 2020

CPRE has called for a radical rethink of the role of the countryside in tackling the climate emergency.

As the government chooses how best to support the recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic, CPRE is calling for the countryside to be at the forefront of climate action. CPRE believes that the countryside is key to tackling the climate emergency and provides many of the solutions to addressing climate breakdown. Supporting rural public transport, delivering renewables sensitively and investing in nature-based solutions, like hedgerow restoration, would all address climate change and benefit the Sussex countryside.

‘The government’s ‘build, build, build’ strategy ignores public support for building back better, including enhancing and protecting countryside and green spaces. In ‘Greener, better, faster’, CPRE sets out countryside solutions to the climate emergency and for a green recovery from the pandemic. It shows how the countryside can be at the heart of the transformation to a net-zero society, to ensure we tackle the climate emergency in a way that benefits people living and working in rural communities.

‘Greener, better, faster’ recommends five major actions by government:

  • Farming: Introduce an action plan for the land use sector to expand woodland and agroforestry, rapidly re-wet and restore peatland, drive uptake of agroecological practices to boost soil health, and drive down emissions from inefficient use of synthetic nutrients;
  •  Hedgerows: Invest in the restoration and planting of England’s hedgerows, to achieve at least a 40% increase in their length by 2050;
  • Planning and building: Radically tighten up building regulations to ensure that new buildings meet zero carbon standards. Existing buildings should also meet zero carbon standards in terms of heat and space;
  • Energy: Invest in a new generation of renewables, including solar, wind and hydro that are strategically planned at the national, sub-regional and local levels. This should be done in a way that benefits the rural economy, forming a cornerstone of local enterprise and jobs; is supported by or owned by local communities; brings net benefits to wildlife; and minimises impacts on landscape, tranquillity and cultural heritage and;
  • Transport: Divert £27 billion planned road spend to a ring-fenced rural transport fund to support low carbon public transport services for rural communities that need to be better connected.

 The full text of ‘Greener, better, faster’ can be found here: