Land Use


Land use, whether for agriculture, business, energy production, or as somewhere to live and work is of fundamental interest to CPRE. Devon has one of the lowest population densities in the UK and Devon is a largely rural County with Dartmoor being the largest open space in the UK. Agriculture and Tourism form key parts of the local economy. Land use is both contentious and complex. All the uses we make of our land are interrelated. Food production, biodiversity, water quality, landscape, culture, energy production, industry, transport and housing all have to co-exist and compete with each other for limited and finite space.

Devon County Council is producing a  Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) and Defra has produced a useful document Agriculture in the United Kingdom . No matter what use the land is put to there will be effects on the landscape, whether from the intrusion of industry, energy projects or housing and the transport links that tie them together. All will affect the biodiversity on which we all ultimately depend. A group of 25 UK conservation and research organisations have produced The State of Nature. It is a lengthy document but well worth a read.

CPRE has done a lot of work in this area. We have commissioned a study of “Tranquility” and have developed an Intrusion Map of England.  You can see how the South West is affected here.  Night Blight can also have a serious impact on the countryside. You can see the effects across the country here and how “Night Blight” affects the South West here.  All this work culminated in a short pamphlet on “Saving Tranquil Places” and has culminated in a Campaign Brief on Light Pollution and another on Tranquility. We have also done a lot of work on Hedgerows and do our best to keep track of threats to our Forests and Woodland. Chalara Fraxinea, or Ash Dieback, as you can see here is spreading across the UK. Pests to British Forests are also a problem.

Our countryside is increasingly fragmented with, for Devon, Percentages of “Disturbed Area” rising from 8.4% in 1960 to 31.15% in 2007. We do, however, remain a largely rural and agricultural county where “Land Use” should dominate Government policies. Read a short summary of Agricultural Land here.