Halting the ravages caused by the relentless spread of “grotesque” wind farm developments is a priority for the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, as it celebrates its 80th birthday tomorrow.
In 1928 when CPRW was born, one its founders, T Alwyn Williams said: “It is as well to remind ourselves that amongst the greatest of our possessions is the natural beauty of Wales.
“Our little country is indeed one of the loveliest on God’s earth and it is this distinction which has made her so well known beyond the borders. These are however times of change and little remains static, the natural beauties of Wales are now in real danger of being spoilt unless we in this generation care enough about them to prevent this.”
Peter Ogden, director of the CPRW added: “How little has changed and what was true in 1928 is still the same today. This is why the CPRW is as important now as it was 80 years ago.”
Mr Ogden said the current challenges facing rural Wales include:
Putting affordable roofs over the heads of those local rural people who want to live and work in their home areas;
promoting an exciting new role for farmers not just as food suppliers but landscape architects and custodians;
supporting them to use farmland imaginatively to grow food and to safeguard water and wildlife, to be managers of carbon and brokers of suitable outdoor/leisure opportunities;
avoiding disfiguring the landscape of rural Wales by preventing its industrialisation (in particular the uplands) by inappropriate development. Maintaining the character and quality of the countryside by preventing the cancerous spread of urban clutter and the blandness of poorly designed buildings;
retaining the heart beat of rural life by preventing the continued haemorrhaging of facilities and services in rural communities such as small schools, shops, post offices, community hospitals and public transport;
pumping new incentives into countryside management to create more local work;
and getting the Assembly Government to fully recognise that the agenda for rural Wales is one of the most important keys in delivering “Sustainable Wales”.
“What is clear is that rural Wales faces an uncertain future.
“Climate change, population growth, the pressure for and availability of housing, demands for new transport and energy infrastructure, as well as acute pressure on farming and rural communities, all add up to a major agenda for change.
“What is less clear however is who and what will the countryside be for? How we will use our scarce land resources? How can we develop sustainable rural communities? These are the issues which we in CPRW and everyone else who has an interest in the countryside need to face sooner rather than later.
“One thing is clear is that the landscapes of rural Wales as we know and cherish them today will be different by our centenary in 20 years’ time.
“No longer will it just be the icons of our landscapes, the National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty which will need to be cared for.
“The everyday things that make life in rural Wales different, and we tend to take for granted, will also need safeguarding .
“By the time we reach our centenary, we hope that things will have changed. Farmers and land mangers will be valued and earn more for the work they do in maintaining the countryside, woods, meadows and habitats for wildlife.
“Consumers will choose and prefer locally-grown food having increased awareness of how and where it’s produced and the benefits it provides for farming and the countryside.
“In our sustainable future our uplands will be protected as nationally important storehouses of carbon and the safety valves for water storage and flood regulation. Smaller towns and villages will grow as a result of the revival in locally-produced food and the interest in the countryside for leisure. This will also help to create more local jobs. With less traffic, the countryside will be a quieter place for walkers, cyclists, and horse riders.
“The substantial growth in the rural population will allow small towns and villages to thrive after decades of decline.
“Rural renewables, including wind turbines and solar panels, will supply the countryside with energy. Wind turbines will be the size of tall trees rather than the height of skyscrapers.
“Biomass, in the form of wood fuel, will come from wildlife-rich, low input coppice woodlands. Overall power needs will have decreased due to energy-efficient buildings and modes of transport.
“There will also be an increase in small scale community based renewable schemes, with many villages supplying much of their own heat and electricity.
“People will feel a greater sense of ownership of the countryside, and support its conservation as taxpayers and as volunteers. They will see rural Wales as with other areas of the countryside as part of their heritage and citizenship, rather than one more item for consumption.
“By 2028, we hope that people will have long since realised the importance of the landscapes and huge range of opportunities and services that they and rural Wales provides. For our part we will have helped ensure that the unique heritage of rural Wales continues to be enjoyed and celebrated by all.
“Without views, we have no perspectives and no future.”
As Wales’ rural watchdog the CPRW campaigns to:
Protect all Welsh landscapes;
safeguard rural services and community life;
promote responsible and sensitive change;
encourage environmental awareness among young people;
and celebrate the quality and diversity of our Welsh heritage.
by Sally Williams, Western Mail
20 May 2008
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