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CPRE Sussex Director’s column written for West Sussex Gazette, March 2023

31st March 2023

Spring! It might, despite the recent cold snap, just be here.

The snowdrops, primroses and daffodils are blooming. Tiny lambs are taking faltering footsteps on the Downs. It is a time for new beginnings.

I am in the middle of my own new beginning, as I take on the role of director of CPRE Sussex.

I’m humbled to be playing my part in an organisation 50-years young which is committed to shaping a greener future for our county.

Last month’s change of heart by Center Parcs – in the face of trenchant opposition from a coalition of residents and organisations including CPRE – is just the latest in a long line of successes.

Those successes are a reason to hope.

They demonstrate that, when we act together, we can tackle the threats facing our wildlife, water and way of life.

I’m under no illusion about the scale of those challenges.

Our historic landscape is under pressure from voracious developers, whose schemes do little to meet the needs of younger people trapped in Generation Rent.

Our farmers need support and encouragement to transform agriculture.

Local buses are disappearing, we lack safe walking and cycling routes and huge parts of our community are cut off from nature.

There is also the terrifying scale of climate change.

The picture may appear bleak. But it is not without hope.

Not only because communities across Sussex have shown time and again that determined residents can defeat badly-planned development, but because the seeds of the future we want are all around.

The Weald to Waves project is creating a 100-miles nature-recovery corridor that will feature regenerative farming and clean-up our rivers.

The Sussex Wildlife Trust-led Kelp Restoration Project is bringing back our lost marine forests.

A new cycle and walkway has just been opened to connect Findon Village and the Findon Valley.

CPRE Sussex’s own urban tree-planting project brings nature into towns and cities, while our Star Count is providing the research to help tackle light pollution.

Change for the better is not only possible, it’s happening.

Last week I sat near Pulborough and watched with awe as marsh harriers, red kites and peregrine falcons soared in the sky above me.

Twenty years ago this would have been almost unthinkable; now it’s commonplace, thanks to dedicated work by conservationists.

Later this month, Amanda Millar from Sussex Bat Group, will share her own conservation work at our final Spring Festival virtual talk. Visit for more information.

These bright spots may be rare in an otherwise gloomy picture, but they show what can be done.

In this season of rebirth and hope, let’s work together and shape a greener future for Sussex.

  • As I start my new role, I’m keen to hear from you – what do you think are the biggest challenges that we face in Sussex? Let me know, or join in with CPRE Sussex’s critical work, by emailing


Paul Steedman

CPRE Sussex Director