Go local to enjoy green spaces safely this bank holiday weekend, urges CPRE, the countryside charity

21st May 2020

With warm weather predicted this weekend and lockdown restrictions eased in England, CPRE, the countryside charity, is encouraging everyone to stay local and enjoy the green spaces available on their doorsteps safely.

The call comes as many people will be making plans to venture out for the first time to meet up with a friend or family member from another household at a safe distance. Rather than driving long distances to meet, where possible CPRE is urging people to make use of the countryside next door.

New evidence suggests there has been a steep rise in appreciation for local green spaces in the South West during lockdown. CPRE, the countryside charity and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (WI) commissioned a poll in May, which found that:

  • Over two-thirds (65%) of people living in the South West think protecting and enhancing green spaces should be a higher priority after the lockdown.
  • Over half (58%) of people in the South West reported that the lockdown has made us more aware of the importance of these local green spaces for our mental health and wellbeing.

Green spaces have been a haven for health and wellbeing for many people since lockdown measures began and now many more people will be looking to the countryside as a place to reconnect with friends and family at a safe distance this weekend.

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said:

‘Understandably, many of us are raring to go, desperate to get outside and enjoy the countryside with friends and family at a safe distance this bank holiday weekend. There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has reminded us why the countryside next door, including our Green Belts, is so important. More people are aware of the health and wellbeing benefits that access to green spaces delivers and support for protecting and enhancing these after lockdown is impossible for the government to ignore. Fortunately, the unseasonably good weather we’re experiencing at the moment means that socialising with a friend or family member outside is what you’d want to be doing anyway.

‘But we need to make sure we don’t overwhelm popular countryside spots. That’s one of the reasons we’re urging the public to stay local, and wherever possible walk or cycle to destinations to avoid horrible bank holiday road congestion and a spike in air pollution, which is bad for our health and fuels the climate emergency. When this is all over, we must not forget that local green spaces have been a refuge for so many people through the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why we’re continuing to call on the government to use the forthcoming planning reforms to protect the countryside next door and also go further by investing in their enhancement.’

A full breakdown of the results of the Opinium poll can be found here:  https://bit.ly/2WJk2TV