THE CAMPAIGN to Protect Rural England has appealed to the government to retain local communities‘ right to safeguard their most valued landscapes.

The government is expected shortly to decide on new planning policies for the countryside, and the CPRE fears that local landscape designations – used by councils to give their landscapes stronger protection from development – may be abolished.

“The government claims that local landscape designations are preventing ‘necessary‘ development. But they have offered no evidence of this,” said CPRE‘s head of rural policy Tom Oliver.

He added: “This begs the question: Who should be deciding local planning issues – the locally elected council which knows its patch, or the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in Whitehall?”

If the government were to scrap local landscape designations, the only designations that would be retained would be at the national level – National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“We urge the government at this late hour to see the good sense of allowing local people to afford a modest level of protection to the landscapes they love most. Otherwise, the government‘s commitment to ‘New Localism‘ will seem hollow indeed,” Mr Oliver said.