1960s – 1970’s
The 1960’s raised calls for undergrounding of power lines which were now spreading rapidly through the countryside. Road traffic was also increasing leading to the closure of almost all of Norfolk’s local rail links. The agricultural revolution continued to impact on the Norfolk landscape with the disappearance of hedgerows, the building of concrete barns and dwindling numbers of farmworkers. All this and more occupied the branch’s attention in the 1960s, but it was the Bacton Gas Terminal that generated the biggest challenge to CPRE Norfolk so far.
Bacton Gas Terminal Campaign
On 2nd November 1966 the EDP reported Shell’s application to build a reception and treatment plant for newly found North Sea Gas, on 60 acres of cliff top farmland between Bacton and Paston. The Branch campaigned vigorously to emphasise the scenic value of the area and for relocation of the site to existing ports or industrial centres such as Yarmouth, Lowestoft or Kings Lynn. Pressure from the Branch, Parishes and the National Trust forced two public inquiries and ensured that planning permission was granted only with a number of developmental conditions and safety precautions. The Bacton Inquiry certainly put the protection of Norfolk’s landscapes into the public’s attention more than ever before.
1970s – Mergers, Awards and Celebrations
The 1970s was a time of expansion for the branch. In 1972 CPRE Norfolk merged with the Norfolk Association of Amenity Societies to form the Norfolk Society. In 1974, following local government reform, district branches were formed to concentrate on issues and development in their district council area. In 1977, the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust was founded as a joint venture with the County Council, to identify and renovate worthwhile Norfolk buildings in danger of dereliction or demolition. And around this time, the Norfolk Society Awards was born, to give recognition to significant small-scale achievements in the field of conservation and environmental architecture. With these new ventures up and running, the branch continued to be as active as ever in issues that threatened the countryside. Quarrying was expanding rapidly in Norfolk and there were many examples of the Branch attending public planning inquiries. There was also controversy over suggested routes for bypasses at Loddon, Holt, Reepham and Wroxham. ‘European Year of the Tree’ in 1973 saw the branch organising tree planting, school projects, talks to local groups and a conference in Norwich to celebrate the countryside.