CPRE Sussex Director’s column written for West Sussex Gazette, May 2023
The bunting is down, the street parties a memory, but the importance of the coronation to the future of our nation is perhaps only just beginning.
The new king is famed for his concern for both the natural and the built environment.
As Prince of Wales, Charles was an environmental pioneer.
In a speech more than 50 years ago, he warned of pollution from ‘gasses pumped out by endless cars and aeroplanes’, toxic substances in our rivers and filth in our seas, and of the devastating consequences of our use of ‘indestructible plastic containers’.
“Conservation or problems about pollution should not be held up as separate concepts from housing or other social schemes,” he said.
“’Conservation’ means being aware of the total environment that we live in.”
These are very much the views and values that steer our work at CPRE Sussex.
We see, for example, that the provision of genuinely affordable, brownfield housing to meet local need, and the protection of nature, water and landscapes can go hand-in-hand – but it does need reformed planning rules to make it happen.
While Charles can no longer be outspoken in the way he was, his practical examples can guide us in other ways – his commitment to low-impact farming, or his installation of solar panels on rooftops at Clarence House and Highgrove.
Our new King can inspire us in other ways too.
Alongside the pomp and pageantry, King Charles III’s crowning was also marked by the launch of the Big Help Out – a campaign encouraging people to get involved in volunteering in their communities.
CPRE is one of the many organisations taking part in the Big Help Out.
We are, first and foremost, a volunteer organisation.
It is our members and supporters who lead on protecting the countryside, with staff on hand to support them.
It is our volunteers who fight off big developers, campaign against climate change pollution from road-building and airport expansion, and build up the data that paints a picture of the light pollution dimming our starry skies.
You could be part of it too.
As part of the Big Help Out, we’re asking people across Sussex to become ‘citizen scientists’ this month, completing a simple, no-expertise-necessary survey of local hedgerows, to build a picture of the health of this green network.
Simply search ‘Hedgelife Help Out’ online to find out how to take part.
If that’s not your thing, we’ve got loads of other volunteering opportunities – just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaking at the international climate change talks in Glasgow, two years ago, Charles told negotiators from around the world “One of the things that motivated me more than anything else is that I didn’t want to be accused by my grandchildren or children of not doing the things that needed doing at the time.”
What finer tribute to the new king than all of us doing a little to help out our environment?