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CPRE Pre-Budget Briefing

CPRE | Campaign to Protect Rural England

3 min read Partner content

CPRE has published a summary of views on and hopes for the last Budget of the current parliament tomorrow. The Government has recently made a number of high-profile policy announcements on core CPRE issues such as brownfield housing zones and a cycling and walking strategy but there are hopes that the Government will look to introduce further measures before the election.

Landscape

For a long time the Government has had the opportunity to announce a decision on whether to extend the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks. With strong public support and the benefit of a recent inquiry, this is a great opportunity for the coalition to demonstrate its commitment to our beautiful landscapes. We would also like to see secure funding for National Parks and AONBs; this is particularly important with cuts to departmental and local authority budgets making it difficult to safeguard our finest landscapes.

Rural affairs

We have serious concerns about how Defra will fulfil its remit if its departmental budget is sliced a further 42 per cent, as trailed in the press ( i.e. for non-ring fenced departments). Budget cuts at Defra are likely to incur further cuts for Natural England – with consequent harm to their work to promote the value of the countryside, such as through national landscape character areas. It could also endanger other important landscape projects like tranquillity mapping and tackling light pollution.
We are cautious about possible announcements on food enterprise zones (FEZs) as they could require Local Development Orders (LDOs) to put them in place. LDOs are inflexible and curtail planning regulations.

Transport

Northern Powerhouse: If the full potential of the north is to be delivered - including unlocking brownfield and regenerating smaller towns - we need to invest in a comprehensive public transport network and in town centres. A completely new HS3 rail route and road tunnel through the Pennines would not just be a damaging waste of money, it would starve funding from smaller scale measures that would deliver far more.
Local travel: Thanks to CPRE's amendment to the Infrastructure Act 2015, the next government will be required to publish a Cycling Walking Investment Strategy later this year. Given the cross-party support shown for this, it's time for the Chancellor to commit serious long-term funding to make our roads safe for all.

Energy

The Government is expected to give yet more tax breaks to North Sea oil companies and further prop up a high carbon economy. Instead, CPRE would like to see tax breaks in the low carbon economy to create jobs, reduce energy bills and alleviate pressure on the countryside. These would include tax reductions for energy efficiency measures such as insulation and more efficient appliances, and improving the tax relief system for community energy projects. Genuine energy cooperatives do not currently qualify for the new tax relief that’s been proposed, which is a big problem for the expansion of community energy.

Housing and planning

The Government’s recent measures on brownfield have been welcome, but it should go further to encourage development of affordable housing on brownfield land. It should also establish a fund to enable the remediation of brownfield sites and incentives for custom-build and small-scale house builders.
Establishing a system of low income housing tax credits, that provides about 90% of all affordable housing provided in the United States, is a mechanism that the Government should investigate to increase affordable housing supply.

Read the most recent article written by CPRE - CPRE comments on the Housing Bill

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