HALF PRICE OFFER Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today CLICK HERE

Close to my Herts: Kevin Fitzgerald from the CPRE Hertfordshire

18:47 10 April 2012

Close to my Herts: Kevin Fitzgerald from the CPRE Hertfordshire

Close to my Herts: Kevin Fitzgerald from the CPRE Hertfordshire

Kevin FitzGerald, honorary director of the Hertfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), tells Louise McEvoy about the campaign group's aims, challenges and successes in its bid to protect the county's countryside

What is CPRE and when was it established?


The Campaign to Protect Rural England was set up in 1926 as The Council for the Preservation of Rural England. It has been through two name changes since then, reflecting changes in the emphasis of its activities. It is a national charity, with a branch in every county, working through the planning system to protect Britains beautiful countryside. The patron is Her Majesty the Queen. The Hertfordshire branch was formed in 1928 by a group of people concerned at the rising tide of ugliness of development in the inter-war years.



When did you get involved in CPRE Hertfordshire?


I was invited to join by the late Brigadier Freddie de Butts when I was appointed a deputy lieutenant in 1983, but little did I know that I would one day fill his shoes as honorary director. My interest in countryside protection came about when, as a junior civil servant in the 1960s, I worked for the National Parks Commission. At that time the National Parks had been established, but some Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty were in the process of designation.



What is your role?


As honorary director I am in effect the voluntary chief executive officer, responsible for the operation of the branch, campaigning and media relations.



What are the main threats to the Hertfordshire countryside at the moment?


The main threats at present are proposals for major housing development, notably in the Green Belt around Hunsdon, Eastwick and Gilston, north of Harlow, and the huge Strategic Rail Freight Interchange in the Green Belt at Park Street, south of St Albans.



What has been the biggest victory in Hertfordshire for CPRE?


Our biggest recent success was to fight off a proposal by Luton Borough Council to include thousands of houses and a bypass in the beautiful North Hertfordshire Green Belt around Lilley Bottom in its Development Plan Core Strategy. We achieved this by setting up and supporting a local campaign group which included residents from Luton as well as the villages which would have been swallowed up.



Does CPRE Hertfordshire have any major projects on its hands currently?


In addition to our ongoing work of scrutinising and commenting on emerging district development plans, our current major project is Plan YOUR Place free information events for communities and individuals who want to be involved in neighbourhood planning as provided for in the Localism Act. We are working with the Hertfordshire Association of Parish and Town Councils and the project is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government. We are also in the early stages of organising this years Hertfordshire Village of the Year competition and associated childrens poster competition. This is all about celebrating and encouraging community spirit in our villages. Its an uplifting experience both for participants and judges.



How can people get involved with CPRE?


CPRE is a membership organisation, financed by subscriptions, donations and legacies. We welcome new members who can, if they wish, become active volunteers in a variety of roles. Anyone with planning expertise would be particularly valuable in our busy planning team. Visit www.cpreherts.org.uk for more information.



What do you consider to be the best view in Hertfordshire?


This is a difficult question as there are so many attractive views. My favourite is probably looking across the Old Bourne valley from Benington. It is typical Hertfordshire countryside: tranquil, green, wooded, undulating and with the chance to see a herd of deer.



Where is the best walk in the county?


Again this is a personal choice from among so many excellent walks, but one I have done often is a 12-mile circuit round the four villages of Rushden, Sandon, Wallington and Clothall. This has everything: woods, valleys, extensive views mixed with intimate landscapes, interesting old churches and a fine old village pub. What better way to finish?

0 comments

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from People

Yesterday, 14:15
Picture By Steven Haywood  -Devon Ferrymen,Salcombe to East Portlemouth: Simon Shortman, dog is Frodo (not Simon's dog).

They are the people that help us get from A to B while giving us some spectacular views in the process. Devon’s silent army of ferry operators often brave the toughest of conditions to make sure this coastal county stays connected. CHRISSY HARRIS went to visit some of the folk working the waterways

Read more
Saturday, May 28, 2016
Ken Lyndon-Dykes

The world-renowned saddle and horse expert on the importance of a good saddle

Read more
Friday, May 27, 2016
Karel Richter directing military to where he had hidden his parachute and other equipment. (National Archives)

Out of black sky, a German agent parachuted into fields where days later the maiden flight of a top-secret RAF aircraft would take off. Seventy-five years on this month, Michael Long looks at the extraordinary case of the London Colney Spy

Read more
Friday, May 27, 2016
Jef Hanlon (Photo by Tom Oldham)

Some of Sussex’s best known personalities have revealed in the magazine what they most love about the county. Here, we compile their stories, favourite restaurants, pubs, shops, views and places to visit

Read more
Friday, May 27, 2016
Photo by Kate Eastman

A friendly arts club that offers life drawing to professionals and amateurs

Read more
Friday, May 27, 2016
Bembridge's Tamar class lifeboat Alfred Albert Williams deploying its Y boat

As the sun comes out and the temperatures begin to climb, many of us will be heading to the coast to make the most of the summer. But spare a thought for the men and women giving their time to make sure we are safe at sea. Charles Williams praises the RNLI

Read more
Friday, May 27, 2016
Jonathan Dimbleby: 'My fear of course is that everyone will come and live here and then everyone will know the secret'

He’s part of a television dynasty which has dominated our screens for decades and yet at home in Devon Jonathan Dimbleby is broadcasting news and views of a different kind, as Alexis Bowater discovers

Photography by Matt Austin

Read more
Friday, May 27, 2016
Inside the day hospice art room

The launch of Sue Ryder’s forthcoming Art Affirming Life exhibition was held at the Day Hospice, Leckhampton Court, Cheltenham.

Read more
Friday, May 27, 2016
Anthony Wright playing tennis

We caught up with Anthony Wright, the enthusiastic tennis player from Bancroft’s Prep School

Read more
Friday, May 27, 2016
Nicki and Martin Else know how to make award-winning fish and chips

Not only is Something Else Fishy one of the best independent fish and chip shops in the whole of the country, it is also home to a cracking seafood restaurant

Read more

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory


Job search in your local area




Local Business Directory

Hertfordshire's trusted business finder

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search