The Council for the Preservation of Rural Wales says it will not stop until the Welsh uplands have been cleared of industrial wind turbines.
The pledge is contained in a wish-list drawn up by the rural watchdog, which yesterday celebrated its 80th anniversary.
It believes the Welsh countryside faces challenges as great as they were in 1928 when the landscape charity was founded.
Current director Peter Ogden said: “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.”
According to the CPRW, contemporary issues include affordable housing, industrialisation of landscapes, retention of rural services, the changing role of farming and the “cancerous” spread of urbanisation.
Over the next 20 years conservation efforts must be focused not just on rural icons like the National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but also the everyday facets of rural life.
The CPRW wants smaller towns and villages to thrive, and a revival in local produce. Farmers must be valued as landscape guardians while the uplands should be protected as carbon stores and for water storage and flood regulation. Biomass, in the form of wood fuel, will come from wildlife-rich, low input coppice woodlands, it envisages. Many villages will be supplying much of their own heat and electricity via community-based renewable schemes.
With less traffic, the countryside will be quieter for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
By 2028 the CPRW believes wind turbines will have disappeared from the uplands. “Those which remain will be the size of tall trees rather than the height of skyscrapers,” said Dr Jean Rosenfeld, CPRW’s acting chairman. He said the charity recognised that rural Wales was a living landscape and that change will happen.
He added: “One factor which is more significant in today’s world than it was in the 1920s, is the speed and scale of change.
“CPRW’s challenge is therefore to ensure that change is achieved not only in a sustainable but more importantly in environmentally responsible and sensitive way.”
Changes, when they happen, must be small, not “big and brash”. This will only occur if people take ownership of the countryside and the Assembly Government fully delivers on commitments outlined in “Sustainable Wales”, he added.
by Andrew Forgrave
22 May 2008
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