Campaign to Protect Rural England

rosette-button-vote-for-the-countryside-120-x-136I read a letter in the Sidmouth Herald last week from a Mr Tony Dustan-Smith of Manor Road, Sidmouth urging candidates to support the Campaign to Protect Rural England manifesto. Mr Dustan-Smith asks “With the General Election fast approaching, now is the time to ask those who aspire to be our MPs in the future what they will do if they are elected.”

As the prospective parliamentary candidate for the Green Party in East Devon, I have replied to the newspaper and hopefully they will include my letter on Friday 19th February. I’ve said I’ll support the manifesto and even blog about it on here….so here we are….some info about the CPRE below:

Our countryside faces many challenges, but the coming election gives politicians the chance to shape the way we care for and use it now and in the future. Last year, Campaign to Protect Rural England launched a vision for the countryside in 2026, their centenary year. CPRE are optimistic that our countryside can be a better place than it is now, but that will depend on the decisions made between now and then.


As far as where the Green Party stands on the CPRE maifesto – our leader Caroline Lucas MEP actually gave the CPRE annual lecture last summer – on reconciling competing environmental objectives; ‘a market approach won’t protect countryside’.

Caroline called for an urgent reform of the UK’s planning system to put environmental sustainability at its heart – and encourage maximum citizen participation in key development decisions. She highlighted the need for improved dialogue in situations where there are pressures for conflicting environmental goods, such as the need to exploit renewable energy opportunities while also seeking to protect the UK’s rural landscapes.

The Green MEP said: “As the government prepares to publish its white paper on energy, now more than ever it is crucial that the UK seizes the opportunity to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and generate billions in revenue from new renewable technologies. Destroying our precious environment by building Tesco superstores does not suddenly become OK because CEO Terry Leahy promises to plant woodland somewhere. Expanding Heathrow airport does not suddenly become a green option because BAA invests in some bat boxes.”

I will blog more about the CPRE in the future – but for now will leave you with the very manifesto Mr Dustan-Smith highlighted in his letter. Thanks Tony. Hope to meet up with you in the future at some point. We’ll be in Sidmouth this Saturday morning outside the co-op actually if you want to pop and say hello. More details here

The CPRE manifesto
Our manifesto for the countryside will help us achieve our vision of a better countryside for all. Please ask candidates of all parties to support it through making pledges and taking action. What we would like to see:

  • a democratic planning system that protects and enhances the countryside, promotes urban renewal and improves people’s quality of life
  • investment in public transport including bus, rail and coach, and safer walking and cycling
  • support a national deposit scheme for drink containers, and ban free plastic bags if voluntary schemes do not work

Read more on the CPRE website

Winter Walk to Stockland

Natasha, Aleck, Chilli (our Gordon Setter) and I walked to Stockland and back yesterday. It took us two whole hours but it’s the first time we’ve walked that way and the four of us encounted many obstacles along the way! The fields were quite boggy but we weaved our way through them, and I taught the kids how to try and walk on the higher bits which were much dryer. The first stile fence crossing we had to tackle had a pipe placed just before it – with water gushing out which made the area all around the stile very boggy, something my 4 year old was not very comfortable with at all. I carried him over though and we all crossed the first hurdle in one piece!

Our second challenge was the little stream crossing (on the left) which had broken handrails so tight hold to Mummy’s hand over that one! If you thought that bridge looked bad, look at the one below which we came across in the next field…

This one was so bad, Mummy had to not reveal her worries at all in order to get the kids across. Perhaps we shouldn’t have risked it, but I went first with the dog (who was not happy on the rickety wood!) to check it out. I tied the dog up at the other end and went back for Tash & Aleck, to walk them over one at a time. The whole bridge was slanting one way and there were a few slats missing and some others which luckily our feet did not go though! The whole bridge was very slippy and mossy too with wobbly handrails that you couldn’t use. Next bridge pictured below (yes there are a lot of bridges aren’t there!!) took us over the River Yarty. It was a top notch bridge and we all stopped for a well earned breather!

Rosy red apples all round and a bit of a sit down on the steps of the bridge before getting back to the map reading. Tasha has just started map reading at school so a great opportunity to practice following the green dotted line across the Ordnance Survey map.

At four, my little boy Aleck just loved the challenge of finding the next yellow arrow as we went along. He also liked this curious dragon we found sleeping by the river – amazing what you stumble upon in the Blackdown Hills if you keep your eyes open !

We made it home in one piece and saw the first snowdrops of the year, out near our neighbours home. He was out enjoying the winter sunshine too and as he’s on the parish council, I took the opportunity to mention the 2 out of three bridge challenges we had, so hopefully something might get done about them, although I don’t imagine it will be the near future – will keep you posted!

A Pleasant Pheasant

A pheasant in my garden. Isn’t he beautiful.

You can read more about pheasants on the RSPB website – click here.

A large, long-tailed bird. Males have rich chestnut, golden-brown and black markings on body and tail, with a dark green head and red face wattling. Females are mottled with paler brown and black. They were introduced to the UK long ago and more recent introductions have brought in a variety of races and breeds for sport shooting.

Every year in Britain, more than 45 million pheasants and partridges are mass produced inside hatcheries and rearing sheds. From the sheds, they are moved to fattening pens before being released to serve as feathered targets for shooters.

The R.S.P.C.A policies on animal welfare state that “the RSPCA believes that ‘sport’ does not justify the causing of suffering to birds and other animals, and therefore the RPSCA is opposed to shooting for sport.”

If you, like me, are not into the idea of shooting these beautiful creatures for fun, then read a bit more about it on these sites:

The League Against Cruel Sports

Animal Aid


Hunt Saboteurs Association