Countryside blighted by urban growth

PUBLISHED: 13:34 20 September 2007 | UPDATED: 21:49 29 May 2010

A NEW survey has revealed that more than half of the countryside in Essex is blighted by the spread of urban growth. A series of maps produced by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) show the disappearance of the UK s undisturbed areas since the 1

A NEW survey has revealed that more than half of the countryside in Essex is blighted by the spread of urban growth.

A series of maps produced by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) show the disappearance of the UK's undisturbed areas since the 1960s.

The continued building of major infrastructure means that Essex is now one of the fastest changing regions in the country.

Shaun Spiers, CPRE chief executive, said: "Countryside which is undisturbed by noise and development is vital for our quality of life and well-being.

"These maps show what the future may hold if we don't sufficiently value our wonderful rural landscapes. As the shadow of intrusion stretches further and wider, the peace and quite we need is harder to find."

The survey shows that the rate of loss of countryside in Essex is actually increasing: in the early 1960s 27 per cent of land was disturbed by urban intrusion; by 1990 this had grown to 46 per cent and by 2007 the figure was 59 per cent.

Since the early 1990s the East of England, including Essex, has lost 849 square miles of countryside to disturbance from noise and visual intrusion - a rate of loss greater than the national average.

The survey predicts that at the current rate of loss the remaining 50 per cent of the East of England's countryside could be blighted in just 70 years.

The new findings take into account the growth of major infrastructure such as motorways, power stations, and airports. Mr Spiers calls the research a "wake-up call" for the government.

"The government must strengthen policy to protect the remaining areas of undisturbed land and protect it for future generations," he said. "The countryside is one of our greatest national assets. I am sure that the government wants to protect it, but these maps show the current pace of development spreads way beyond its immediate footprint.

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