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1960s and 1970s: from public inquiries to awards

Electricity pylons over farmland
Image by luctheo from Pixabay

1960s – power, roads, agriculture and North Sea gas

The 1960s raised calls for the under grounding of power lines which were now spreading rapidly through the countryside.

Road traffic was also increasing partly as a result of 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.

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 Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft or Kings Lynn.

Pressure from the branch, local 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 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.

In 1979, the Norfolk Society Awards were launched to give recognition to significant small-scale achievements in the field of conservation and environmental architecture. These awards have continued to date and are one of the longest running Awards schemes in the county with almost 500 projects receiving awards.

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 members of the branch attended many 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.

National CPRE campaigns in the sixties and seventies

A national CPRE campaign significantly influenced The Countryside Act 1968 which covered rural areas beyond National Parks.

CPRE also raised concerns about ‘the growing use by industry and commerce of indestructible plastics instead of paper’ also highlighted the question of pollution from plastic bottles.

In the seventies, CPRE was busy with a Hedgerow campaign, calling for the conservation of historic hedges and hedgerow preservation orders.

CPRE worked with the European Economic Community to successfully prevent the increase in lorry weight limits and stop polluting juggernauts thundering through English villages and shattering tranquillity.

CPRE also argued for disposable bottles to be prohibited by law, suggesting deposits on all beverage containers to encourage reuse and recycling. They also called for a ban on dumping plastic waste in the sea.

CPRE also started to seek measures to reduce energy consumption, pointing out that better domestic insulation could reduce energy demand by up to 20%.

A footpath alongside a hedgerow and farmland in the Norfolk countryside