CPRE Sussex Director’s column written for West Sussex Gazette, Nov 2023
The King’s Speech is an opportunity to address the big issues facing Sussex and the countryside. Yet last week’s speech was a disappointing ducking of the needs of the Sussex countryside and those who live throughout our historic county.
Instead of tackling Sussex’s cost of living, climate and nature crises, the Government appeared to be playing crude electoral politics with climate-damaging oil and gas licensing that will do nothing to tackle sky-high energy bills.
While the speech ended with a brief mention of climate change and biodiversity loss, it failed to include any specific details of how the Government plans to “lead action” on these crucial areas.
To protect and enhance the Sussex countryside, and improve the health and wellbeing of residents, we need clear, actionable policies.
We need fresh support to help communities build affordable housing which meets a genuine local need.
We need new action on rural transport including the return of rural buses and the roll-out of an electric vehicle charging network that works for the countryside.
We need plans to restart stalled offshore wind and to get solar power on all new rooftops.
We need ambitious nature-based solutions for managing flooding and support for nature-friendly farming.
All these areas were noticeably absent from last week’s speech.
Another noticeable omission was airport expansion and the need to tackle the aviation industry’s environmental impact.
The Government’s own advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, have said there should be no net airport expansion across the UK.
Yet the planning inspectorate is currently considering a bid for a second runway at Gatwick Airport.
CPRE Sussex strongly opposes these plans and submitted our formal opposition at the end of October.
We believe a second runway is contrary to the policies set out in the Airports National Policy Statement.
It would degrade the quality of the environment, damaging the Sussex countryside and the health and wellbeing of residents.
Anyone concerned about the plans should register to comment by 11.59pm on Sunday, November 19.
The previous deadline was extended after registration closed ahead of the advertised date.
CPRE Sussex wrote to the planning inspectorate calling for an extension after being contacted by several people who were unable to register online.
Anyone who submitted a representation via email while online registration was closed will also need to resubmit their comments via the online form.
You can find out more here: infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/south-east/gatwick-airport-northern-runway
*Branch administrator Lesley Wilson and I will be at Arundel Town Council’s (Environment Working Group) Green Hub Morning on Saturday, November 18.
The event runs from 10am to 12.30pm in the Norfolk Centre, Mill Road, Arundel.
The Green Hub runs alongside the Farmer’s Market to encourage local people and visitors to get involved with projects around sustainability and biodiversity.
I hope to see many of you there on the day to discuss how we can work together to shape a greener future for Sussex.