Photo: Poor reproduction of light map available on the CPRE website
The problems: Government figures show a greenfield area nearly the size of Leicester vanishes under bricks, mortar, concrete and asphalt each year – in a country which is among the world’s most heavily built up. Meanwhile traffic levels are projected to increase by 30% by 2015. The Government has allocated billions of pounds to widen motorways, dual single carriageway roads and build new bypasses over the next decade. Plus of course the Government’s Air Transport White Paper signals a massive increase in air travel and the expansion of airports and associated development. Plus our careless, fast-growing use of outdoor light is blotting out our view of the skies. Between 1993 and 2000, light pollution in creased 24% nationally and the amount of truly dark night sky fell from 15% to 11%.
To me this is great to start recording tranquility - the map was broken down into 500metre by 500 metre squares with each square getting it's own score - the Government have often recognised the value of tranquility but done little to protect it - indeed it shrinks daily - at least by recording these scores the issue can be highlighted. We urgently need planning policies that properly recognise these issues. Tranquillity shouldn't just be about protecting our last few large remaining areas of tranquillity in the most remote areas, like say Dartmoor. We need to recognise there are often important relatively tranquil places on our doorstep, such as in the Green Belts surrounding our big towns and cities.
We should also not forget the benefits - according to Cornell University if you want your children to grow up to actively care about the environment, give them plenty of time to play in the 'wild' before they're 11 years old (see more here) and of course there are lots of health benefits - see here.
Meanwhile listen to Gloucestershire bees or a Cumbrian waterfall here.