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Annual Report 2007-8

CPRE Hampshire at "Full Steam Ahead"!

Christopher Napier, Chairman, CPRE Hampshire

South East Plan

Our branch planning work during this last year has been defined largely by the progress of the South East Plan. This Plan is critical for Hampshire over the next 20 years, and will define the further pressures that our County and countryside will face over this period.

Along with CPRE South East, we took an active role in the Examination-in-Public (EiP), which tested the draft of the South East Plan that had been prepared by the Regional Assembly. At the end of March 2007 the Panel issued its Report to the Secretary of State. Although this recommended increasing the total housing numbers by 10% across the South East Region, it supported the draft strategy to concentrate major development in South Hampshire and the Basingstoke area, and focuses on brownfield sites. This is a strategy that CPRE Hampshire supports in principle, as it gives priority to the major urban areas and stresses the need to use brownfield land.

We await the Government's delayed response to the Panel Report. We may be in for something of a fight if Government uses the opportunity to impose a yet further significant increase in housing numbers that will further harm the natural environment, and undermine the strategy carefully developed by the Regional Assembly in consultation with the public.

Local Development Frameworks

Local Development Frameworks will take over from Local Plans and have to be in compliance with the South East Plan. Local Planning Authorities are working up their Frameworks and our District Groups are endeavouring to influence the outcome. The whole process is new and complex, and at Branch level we have been developing a common approach. We have also been seeking to influence the emerging Hampshire Minerals and Waste Development Framework.

The latest version of the County's Housing Monitoring Paper, designed to report on progress with the outgoing Hampshire County Structure Plan, concludes once again that there is no need to release for building any of the County's reserve sites. This unique policy of reserve sites, strongly supported by CPRE Hampshire, has been a great success in saving countryside from large-scale housing development. HCC is exploring ways in which something similar might be carried forward into Local Development Frameworks, and we shall be doing our best to ensure this aim is achieved.

We hope to use the emerging Local Development Frameworks as a basis for rebuilding our presence in the South Hampshire area; developing the work of SHUV (South Hampshire's Unheard Voices), an umbrella body we set up to provide a route for amenity and environmental organisations in South Hampshire to participate in the Examination in Public into the South East Plan

Laser Beams

We are delighted that our efforts to defeat the proposal for laser beams with a range of 15 miles to shine out nightly from the town hall clock tower in Southampton were successful. It was an ill conceived scheme and our campaign had widespread support. A public inquiry into a large wind turbine on the skyline of the South Downs at Glyndebourne (to which we also objected) is now underway, with strong participation by CPRE National Office and CPRE Sussex.

South Downs National Park

We were shocked when the Report of the Inspector appointed to inquire into proposals for a South Downs National Park was issued and included a recommendation that the Western Weald (some 25% of the originally proposed national park) be excluded. This would mean that the towns of Petersfield, Midhurst and Petworth, along with a large tract of countryside to the north of the A272 and the River Rother, would be outside the national park. Such a result would be contrary to the proposal for a South Downs National Park put forward, after full public consultation, by the Countryside Agency (now part of Natural England). Some of this very special countryside would be at risk of losing the AONB status that has protected it for the last 40 years.

An immediate campaign to counter this was started. It has been largely masterminded by CPRE Hampshire volunteers; and through lobbying, media coverage, getting out on the streets and sheer hard work, has secured very strong support from Natural England, Hampshire County Council, local authorities, parish councils, local politicians and the public. The Secretary of State was persuaded to increase the time for representations on the Inspector's Report; and of the just over 2000 written representations made to the Secretary of State, all but a handful were in favour of inclusion of the Western Weald. The campaign has received strong support from CPRE National Office and CPRE Sussex. It was a great boost for the campaign that CPREs national president, Bill Bryson, came to visit the western Weald, and wrote articles of support that successfully raised the issue in the national consciousness.

The Secretary of State was persuaded to re-open the public inquiry. We are presenting our evidence under the umbrella of the South Downs Campaign, whose membership has risen rapidly in the last few months. There are strong arguments for a change of mind by the Inspector. Our local volunteers have made it plain that there will be no lessening of pressure until the beautiful Western Weald is secure for future generations.

Rural Matters

The farming community has a strong role in conserving our countryside, and to show our support for local foods and our Hampshire farmers, we continued to sponsor and judge the Best Food Producer of the Year category in the Hampshire Life Food & Drink Awards; and our programme of education on farming matters has included visits for members to Manor Farm, Twyford and and Wintershill Farm at Durley.

Of great concern is the damage to the beauty of the countryside, to wildlife and to the interests of the farming community that results from fly-tipping and littering. In recognition that something needs to be done, we have joined with the NFU, CLA, WI and others, under the umbrella of the Committee for Rural Hampshire, to launch a campaign to curb these anti-social activities. CPRE Hampshire intends to have an important role in the campaign, especially as a national CPRE campaign is to be launched by Bill Bryson in April. Funding is being sought.

Transport Matters

In the transport field, as a result of our roadside clutter campaign, Hampshire County Council is engaging in a pilot scheme to remove a large number of roadsigns from the A32, and replace many others with better designs. We hope the outcome will be guidelines for use in clutter reduction across the whole county. A second phase of this Meon Valley Road Project will be the introduction of a 'shared space' traffic management scheme in West Meon, again as a pilot scheme. This concept has our full support.

Road noise has a major impact on tranquillity of the countryside and we have embarked on a campaign to secure quieter road surfaces on roads with the Highway Authorities. Priority is given to A34 and A303 trunk roads and we press, on an opportunity basis, for a noise-abatement programme on our rural roads in Hampshire.

Expansion of air services and airports at Southampton and Farnborough continue to be challenged and contained within existing perimeters. We continue to monitor the replacement of fleets at both locations with quieter and more fuel-efficient engine aircraft. Lower levels of noise and less local air pollution are evident. Air operations at Lower Upham airstrip have expanded in a largely uncontrolled and unlicensed manner. We are pressing for conditions on its operation.

Our Transport Campaign Group held a successful transport symposium. The benefit or otherwise of bypasses was a major topic of discussion, with speakers bringing different viewpoints, especially as to the possibility of a bypass for Lyndhurst in the New Forest. We also received an update from Hampshire County Council on the Meon Valley Road Project.

Awards Scheme

With the help of a young volunteer and the Branch Office, we have set up a CPRE Hampshire Countryside and Design Awards Scheme to recognise the efforts of volunteers, schools, businesses and public sector bodies in Hampshire that are showing leadership in conserving and enhancing our environment and countryside; or in advancing values which CPRE stands for, such as local foods and tranquillity; or in improving opportunities for our children to learn about our landscape and rural issues. We look forward to receiving many good applications now and over the coming years.

Financial Matters

In 2006 the Trustees set an aim to move from a deficit budget towards a balanced budget, and to bring in new fundraising ideas focussing on District Group events and applications to charitable trusts. This policy has had growing success and we have a small surplus for the 2007 financial year. This will augment our reserves, along with a legacy of £10,000 that has been left to us by the late Mrs Joan Haines. In terms of Branch fundraising, our new 500 Club has got off to a very good start, and the Branch appeal organised by National Office was a great success.

However our income will be under pressure if our membership continues to decline. Recruitment is the one major disappointment of the year, as with last year. This is despite an excellent and widely publicised Branch event at the home of the Earl and Countess of Portsmouth at Farleigh Wallop and the efforts of District Groups to recruit at agricultural shows and other events. We are setting up a small working group to look at ways of improving this situation.

Branch Office

With Pam Mason and Becky French, we have again benefited from an enterprising and proactive Branch Office. Our new programme of walks and visits, initiated by the Branch Office staff has proved very successful. Keren Burney, our professional media consultant has had a busy year, assisted by Becky French, and we have a good year for media coverage with increasing interest from radio and television.

So, I can report that it has been "Full Steam Ahead" for CPRE Hampshire in the last year.

April 2008

This page last updated 4th February 2011.



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