Officials bypassing development safeguards

August 31, 2006

The supposed defenders of the British countryside are dodging and defying their own rules to permit development in beauty spots, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Weakened planning laws have opened the way to new roads, quarrying, wind farms and other invasions of wild landscapes, in spite of a battery of legal measures intended to protect plant and animal life as well as peaceful solitude.

Serious damage is imminent to two national parks and seven officially designated areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs), says the CPRE, which has posted a list of “nine jewels in the crown” under threat.

“This is not a matter of developers finding some clever loophole in the laws,” said Tom Oliver, the group’s head of rural policy. “It is the authorities themselves – central and local government – which are threatening most of the damage.”

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Officials accused of bypassing rural safeguards in development drive