Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Campaign to Protect Rural England

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CPRE joins Feargal’s live stream in call to save our water ways and water supplies


Ex punk musician and campaigning trout fisherman Feargal Sharkey is fronting efforts to protect our rivers and water supplies at an online event open to CPRE members.

Activist Feargal will join a host of organisations placing the way in which rivers are being polluted, used and abused, under the spotlight at the event being streamed live on Tuesday 8 December, 6 to 8 pm.

Poor water management and new developments are all threatening the rivers around us. Rising sea levels caused by climate change could submerge thousands of square miles of low-lying arable land. How can this be stopped?

These are the thorny issues to be debated alongside CPRE and other local groups, including the grassroots civic voice Federation of Cambridge Residents Associations Cambridge (FeCRA), CamFOE, Friends of the River Cam and Cambridge Schools Eco Council.

In a region that is technically a desert, CPRE is spearheading efforts to protect the natural water supplies through its Great Fenland Basin Project. The area includes the Nene, the Great Ouse and the Cam and is also at risk from flooding, as sea levels are projected to rise possibly by up to 4.7 meters in our grandchildren’s lifetime.

The linked issues around protecting our drinking water supplies and preventing arable land from sinking under the sea, plus flood risk from over development, is thrown into even sharper relief by the new Greater Cambridge Local Plan.

CPRE has long been focused on water quality and its connections to the climate emergency and economic growth. CPRE asks whether our communities should be forced to host large developments to meet national planning targets that further add to flood risk and water shortages. A survey carried out as part of the Greater Cambridge Local Plan has even recommended ‘minimal growth’ to protect the future water environment.

In terms of water supply and rainfall, East Anglia is the driest region in Britain, with water demand exceeding supply and an extra 1,014 million litres of water needed to flow through taps by 2050.

CPRE’s Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Chairman Alan James is concerned: "the chalk streams feeding the Cam are drying up due to over-abstraction. Parts of East Cambs are now supplied from Rutland Water. We must take water management more seriously and treat water as a precious resource, not a throwaway commodity."

Added to this is the potential loss of agricultural land in the Great Fenland Basin, which is projected to be below annual flood level by 2050.

In an area that produces around a quarter of the UK’s food supply, the CPRE believes the combined risks of water shortages, building development and floods mean the region is facing a perfect storm of environmental challenges.

Join us in the on line debate on 8 December to explore what we can do together to protect our rivers, water and food supplies. Tickets here:

Tuesday, 24 November 2020 10:21

Featuring the Langdyke Countryside Trust

Written by Cambs Admin


Historic poet inspires nature recovery project in 'John Clare country'


Most of us will have heard of 'Hardy country' or 'Wordsworth country', but are you familiar with the concept of 'Clare country’?

If you live near Peterborough it may be news to you that one of the area's most famous sons was John Clare, an inspirational 19th Century poet of the natural world.




View of Swaddywell Pit by Brian Lawrence - Clare ‘s affection for ‘Swordy Well’ is in his verse.

View of Swaddywell Pit by Brian Lawrence . Clare ‘s affection for ‘Swordy Well’ is in his verse.

His poems still resonate today and are inspiring this major project to 'double nature' by increasing the breadth and depth of woodlands, grasslands, wetlands, meadows and heaths in our county from the current 8.5 % up to 17%. It calls for collaboration between local authorities, housing developers, land owners, farmers, community groups and the Langdyke Countryside Trust, whose volunteers already roll up their sleeves to manage seven nature reserves in the heart of John Clare country between Helpston, Bainton and Etton.

The project has an ambitious set of goals focused on increasing the amount of natural green space available to visitors; championing best practice in land management; helping flora and fauna to flourish, and boosting the number of green jobs in agriculture, tourism and conservation.

"It's a delicate balancing act, but with the countryside and wildlife increasingly under threat from development and the challenges of climate change, flood risk and soil degradation from intensive farming, the action we need to take now to preserve the natural world cherished by John Clare has never been so urgent," said Richard Astle, Chair of the Langdyke Countryside Trust.

With this in mind, the ambitious project offers an exciting vista of a future the poet would have welcomed:

  • Outstanding natural biodiversity through major habitat restoration connected through a mosaic of smaller wildlife havens and corridors
  • An unspoilt landscape that is used by local people and the people of an expanding Peterborough, providing them with a large area of unspoilt countryside on their doorstep
  • Well-kept heritage sites, accessible to all and working together to involve and attract visitors
  • Cyclepaths, footways and ‘quiet roads’ – a green transport infrastructure – where priority is given to walkers and riders
  • Prosperous and successful farming, profiting from a combination of environmentally friendly farming practice, sustainable tourism and recreational activities.


Orchids growing at Swaddywell photographed by Sarah Lambert

The aim is that this nature recovery area would be recognised by Natural England and other statutory agencies and recognised in local policy documents including Local Plans.

It would be distinguished from other nature recovery areas because it is community led and because of how it combines the natural and built heritage and its links, through John Clare, to literature and the arts.

LangdykeFor more information or to get involved click the link

Author: Lorna Watkins

Wednesday, 21 October 2020 11:20

Have your say: upgrade plans, Ely railway

Written by Cambs Admin

Currently operating at full capacity, the railway through Ely is a vital part of the rail network that includes a busy junction where five railway lines converge, providing important routes to key destinations for passenger and freight services.

The Ely area capacity enhancement (EACE) programme is a proposal to upgrade the railway to allow more trains to run through Ely. The aim is to improve connectivity and reliability for passenger services and meet the demand for more rail freight between the Port of Felixstowe, the West Midlands and the north to support sustainable, long-term economic growth.

The first round of public consultation runs from Monday 21 September until Sunday 1 November 2020. You can view the proposals and submit your comments here:

Wednesday, 21 October 2020 10:52

Seeing the best of Autumnal Cambridgeshire

Written by Cambs Admin

To tempt us outside to enjoy the gorgeous colours of our local landscapes, Cambridge News has produced a guide to eight beautiful walks that just happen to include a café stop:

  • Grafham Water
  • Wicken Fen Nature Reserve
  • Milton Country Park
  • Fowlmere
  • Shepreth
  • Lakenheath Fen
  • Ouse Washes
  • The Lodge nature reserve

If you value our landscape, which is under threat as never before, please consider joining us to help protect it for future generations.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020 10:25

Massive developments planned for Peterborough

Written by Cambs Admin

Peterborough’s authorities are going all-out to attract multi-million investment for eight massive regeneration sites around the city centre:

  • Station Quarter
  • North Westgate
  • Northminster
  • Rivergate
  • University
  • Embankment
  • Middleholme
  • Fletton Quays

We aim to keep you updated as the plans develop.

You can view an interactive map of the sites and download a brochure outlining the plans here:

On 23rd June, the Environment Agency announced the move into a period of Prolonged Dry Weather (‘developing drought’) in the Cam & Ely Ouse river catchment. The PDF outlines what this means for the community, and what actions they are taking to minimise damage to the environment.

Click here to download the PDF

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