Friday, November 16, 2007

Urban sprawl may eat up countryside by 2100

Urban growth and the development of roads and airports could swallow up what is left of England's undisturbed countryside by the end of the century, campaigners have warned.

Already 50 per cent of the land in England is disturbed by noise, light and spoiled views from urban areas and major infrastructure, according to maps published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

If development continues at current rates, an area of undisturbed countryside the size of Greater London will be affected by urban intrusion every two years.

The South East is all but disappearing under development, with 70 per cent of the region affected and the remaining 30 per cent set to be blighted in just 45 years under current rates of growth, say the CPRE.

The region has lost 840 square miles of undisturbed land since the 1990s - an area larger than the county of West Sussex, according to their maps.

Since the early 1960s, the amount of land across England which is disturbed by noise and visual intrusion has doubled, up from 26 per cent to 50 per cent, the maps show.

More than 12,350 square miles have been blighted since the 1960s and the rest could be affected within 80 years at current rates, according to the CPRE's maps, drawn by Land Use Consultants.

Developments on green field sites cause noise and light in the surrounding countryside, while new roads slice up the landscape and disturb wildlife.

Aviation blights the skies above English landscapes with noise, say the campaigners.

Each year since the early 1990s, another 320 square miles has become overshadowed by urban development, say CPRE. This adds up to the area of Greater London every two years.

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the CPRE, said: β€œIt is often said that development will take up a small percentage of England's total land surface. But development of all kinds fragments the countryside, undermining the qualities of tranquility, openness and immersion in the rural landscape which people most value about it.”

"An area will no longer be experienced as truly rural long before half its surface is developed ...undisturbed countryside will become a distant memory in their lifetimes.”

In pictures - UK urban sprawl


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