Lockdown should spur us to treasure Norfolk’s green spaces, campaigners say

More should be done to ensure green spaces are protected once the coronavirus pandemic has passed, s

More should be done to ensure green spaces are protected once the coronavirus pandemic has passed, say campaigners. Pic: Supplied by Norfolk County Council - Credit: Archant

Coronavirus lockdown has led to a surge in appreciation for green spaces, prompting campaigners to press for more protection for Norfolk’s once the pandemic ends.

Michael Rayner, from CPRE Norfolk. Pic: CPRE Norfolk.

Michael Rayner, from CPRE Norfolk. Pic: CPRE Norfolk. - Credit: CPRE Norfolk

A new survey showed nearly two-thirds of people feel protecting green spaces should be a higher priority for the government when lockdown ends.

The poll was commissioned by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, which has a branch in Norfolk, and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes.

While the coronavirus restrictions have limited where people can go, green spaces are being used by people for exercise.

And the survey showed 53pc of people said they appreciated local green spaces more, since social distancing measures came in.

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It comes after recent consultation on the latest Greater Norwich Local Plan - a blueprint for where thousands of homes will be built in the next two decades.

Broadland District Council, Norwich City Council and South Norfolk Council are working together with Norfolk County Council to prepare that plan.

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And campaigners from CPRE Norfolk hope the importance of green spaces will be reflected in that blueprint, due to be submitted to the government next year.

Michael Rayner, Planning Campaigns Consultant for CPRE Norfolk, said: “The need for all of us to be able to connect to one another and to local green spaces is clear, with our countryside next door being a vital asset to be valued.

“We hope that securing this will become part of the ‘new normal’ as the country moves forwards in the coming months, and that the Greater Norwich Local Plan will take every opportunity to improve this connectivity.”

Lynne Stubbings, chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, said: “So many of us have discovered pockets of green right on our doorsteps – a chance to get out in the fresh air, exercise, and support our mental wellbeing, which has been an oasis in difficult times.

“Yet too many of these places are threatened - by pollution, litter or the impacts of climate change. As we look to rebuild after the crisis, we must make sure that we continue to cherish our communities and this new sense of connectedness – both to each other and to our local environment.”

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