As a keen cyclist and rambler since 1980 I was thinking what are the main threats to England today – Ebola, Islamic State or global warming?
Yes, they are all mega scarifying but an even more damaging threat comes from our own government’s determination to sacrifice our precious English countryside on the altar of economic growth.
Property developers are being allowed to build massive new housing developments on green field sites all over the country with Sussex, Surrey, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire especially targeted.The MP for Stratford upon Avon recently said that the defining legacy of the Coalition government would be harm to our countryside.I am aghast to learn of a 10,000 home new town planned on open countryside near Henfield, the 100,000 new homes planned for rural Oxfordshire between now and 2030, the concreting over the green belt at Guildford and Reigate and the destruction of the habitat of some of England’s last remaining nightingales with a 5,000 home development near Cliffe on the Kent Marshes.
Someone is going to make a lot of money out of these developments but those of us who love the countryside are going to have a lot less to enjoy.
House building may only be the thin end of the wedge. The autumn statement in December unveiled big new road expansion plans including the A27.
Nor is this all. The government is enthusiastic about fracking which will bring heavy industry into the most unspoilt parts of our countryside.
All three party leaders support these policies. Cameron favours fracking in his own constituency in rural Oxfordshire. Nick Clegg wants to build half a dozen new garden cities between Oxford and Cambridge while Miliband wants to out-house build the Tories.
Those of us who care about the countryside need to band together with CPRE, Guildford Green Belt Group, LAMBS of Henfield and other concerned groups and fight these proposals until our last gasp.“There’ll always be an England” - or will there?
Avon Reach, Salisbury