|Predecessor||Council for the Preservation of Rural England|
|Founder||Sir Patrick Abercrombie|
|Registration no.||Registered charity number: 1089685|
|Headquarters||5–11 Lavington Street, London, SE1 0NZ|
|Emma Bridgewater CBE|
|Simon Murray |
CPRE, the countryside charity, formerly known as the Campaign to Protect Rural England, is a charity in England with over 40,000 members and supporters. Formed in 1926 by Sir Patrick Abercrombie to limit urban sprawl and ribbon development, the CPRE (until the 1960s the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and from then until 2003 the Council for the Protection of Rural England) claims to be one of the longest running environmental groups. CPRE campaigns for a "sustainable future" for the English countryside. They state it is "a vital but undervalued environmental, economic and social asset to the nation." They aim to "highlight threats and promote positive solutions." They campaign using their own research to lobby the public and all levels of government.
Critics of CPRE accuse it of advocating an exclusionary, NIMBY approach to housing policy to artificially inflate the value of housing in the countryside and Britain as a whole, exacerbating the country's housing crisis. It has also been accused of maintaining a Luddite position on technological and land-use change.
CPRE has influenced public policy relating to town and country planning in England, most notably in the formation of the National Parks and AONBs in 1949, and of green belts in 1955.
It claims some credit for the slow shift of agricultural policies across Europe away from a price-support philosophy to one of environmental stewardship, a policy shift begun in England. Campaigns against noise and light pollution have been pursued over recent years, and CPRE is now focusing on "tranquillity" as a key aspect of the countryside which CPRE wants to see protected in England's planning policies.
CPRE joined the 10:10 project in 2010 in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint. One year later they announced that they had reduced their carbon emissions (according to 10:10's criteria) by 12%.
Critics characterise CPRE as
In December 2008 George Monbiot of The Guardian interviewed the then CPRE head, Shaun Spiers, about the organisation's opposition to wind farms but not opencast coal mines. George Monbiot asked why he couldn't find any opposition of the CPRE to surface coal mining over the past five years, and pointed out that the negative effects that coal mines cause by removing the soil from large areas are much greater than the negative effects wind energy might have on the countryside. As a result of this, in 2010 campaigning against inappropriate mineral extraction by opencast mining started to be featured under the 'Climate change and natural resources' section of CPRE's website.
In 2011, the CPRE entered the debate on High Speed Rail in England and complained there was not enough public consultation  despite over 200 million GBP having been already spent on consultancy work.
The CPRE has been criticised for exaggerating the threat to rural England and has warned that the countryside was in danger of being 'concreted over'. According to IEA statistics, only about one-tenth of the English surface area is 'developed' in the broadest sense. About half of that area consists of domestic gardens, leaving only one-twentieth which is really 'under concrete' (including roads, railways, car parks etc.).
Figures from the British YIMBY movement have criticised the CPRE, accusing it of denying the British housing crisis and significantly underestimating housing need in high-cost areas to justify the inviolability of the Greenbelt. YIMBY’s have stated that this policy denies both rural and urban communities of housing that, if planned correctly, they would want to build. The alleged success of their campaign to restrict housing on the rural-urban fringe has led John Myers of London YIMBY to describe them as ‘the NRA of the UK’. Their criticism has also been targeted at the CPRE’s emphasis on the use of brownfield sites, overstating their ability to meet Britain’s housing need. According to the YIMBY movement, this is a distraction from the necessary infill development in and around major urban centres, which offer significantly more potential to meet housing need inside urban areas.
CPRE's national office is at 5–11, Lavington Street, Southwark, London. It also has offices in the eight other regions of England.
In addition there are CPRE branches in each of England's counties and groups in over 200 districts. All but two of the 43 CPRE branches are independent charities of their own. CPRE Durham and CPRE Northumberland are subsidiaries of national CPRE.
CPRE's current campaigns include:
CPRE was formed following the publication of “The Preservation of Rural England” by Sir Patrick Abercrombie in 1926. Sir Patrick became its Honorary Secretary. The inaugural meeting was held in December 1926 at the London offices of the Royal Institute of British Architects and was addressed by Neville Chamberlain, a future prime minister.
Its first campaign was against the spread of ribbon developments which it saw as carving up the countryside. It also began arguing the case for protecting areas of England's most beautiful countryside, and for setting up green belts to preserve the character of towns and give town dwellers easy access to the countryside.
Its campaigning helped lead to the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 and the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.
When England's first motorway the M1 was proposed in 1957 CPRE successfully campaigned for it to avoid the heart of Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire (the road was put into a cutting). Similarly when the M4 was built in 1963 CPRE successfully fought to protect the Berkshire Downs. It also began at this time to seek for tighter control on advertising hoardings along roadsides.
In 1985 in a campaign to reform the EC's Agricultural Structures Directive, CPRE stopped funding for many damaging agricultural activities and secured the first “green” farm payments. In 1988 it helped persuade the Chancellor of the Exchequer to scrap tax incentives favouring blanket conifer plantations in scenic areas.
In 1990 the Government's first ever Environment White Paper accepted the case for hedgerow protection, 20 years after CPRE's campaign was first launched, and in 1997 laws to protect hedgerows finally came into force.
In 1995 CPRE published “tranquillity” maps which show the diminishing areas of the countryside not disturbed by man-made noise, visual intrusion or light pollution. These were updated using a pioneering new methodology in 2006. CPRE also published similar maps focusing solely on light pollution in 2003.
In 1996, English composer John Rutter wrote the words and music for an anthem entitled "Look at the World" in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the CPRE.
In April 2006 CPRE Peak District & South Yorkshire sought to clarify its identity across its vast territory by operating under two distinct identities. Due to its long association with Peak District National Park, the organisation operates as the Friends of the Peak District in the Peak District National Park, High Peak Borough and six parishes of North East Derbyshire (Eckington, Unstone, Holmesfield, Killamarsh, Dronfield, Barlow).
In 2007 CPRE published a series of intrusion maps which highlighted areas disturbed by the presence of noise and visual intrusion from major infrastructure such as motorways and A roads, urban areas and airports. The resulting maps show the extent of intrusion in the early 1960s, early 1990s and 2007.
The CPRE promotes a large number of rural properties, by means of its annual Members' Guide. The 2012 Members Guide was supported by the National Farmers Union.
In 2015, CPRE published the 'Warm and Green' report, which sheds new light on the scale of the energy problems and the solutions needed to tackle them. During the same year CPRE earned the Bankside Star by contributing significantly to the Together at Christmas gift collection campaign for the homeless, vulnerably housed and elderly people.
In 2018 after CPRE's successful 10-year campaign against drink-container litter, the Government announced the introduction of a deposit return scheme to increase recycling rates. As CPRE had demanded, the scheme is set to include all single use drink-containers, whether plastic, glass or metal.
Other CPRE people
East of England
Yorkshire and the Humber