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British people claim to love the countryside but their views and aspirations are often wildly contradictory, accord...
British people claim to love the countryside but their views and aspirations are often wildly contradictory, according to a survey published today by the Countryside Commission.

'These personal contradictions mean that what the general public values and wants from the countryside can threaten the very things they want protected,' says the chairman of the Countryside Commission, Richard Simmonds.

For example the report 'Public Attitudes to the Countryside' shows:

-- twice as many people would like to live in the countryside as currently do, implying the need to build many more new homes than already exist. Yet people recognise 'more people needing homes' as a serious pressure on the countryside;

-- traffic on the roads, yet are rarely prepared to travel to the countryside by public transport (for example 91% of visitors to national parks arrive by car yet 70% say that people driving their cars to and around the countryside are likely to damage it. 81% would like to be able to make more use of public transport instead of using their cars);

-- more people are visiting the countryside, they want greater choice about where to go and a wider range of facilities when they get there but they also worry about development and commercialisation of the countryside;

-- a majority of people think there should be fewer restrictions on the public's use and enjoyment of the countryside yet many believe people harm the countryside just by visiting it.

Mr Simmonds points out these differing demands and values need not be irreconcilable if change in the countryside is managed to achieve the best balance of people's interests. He emphasises it is the commission's role to deal with such relationships between the landscape and the economy of rural areas.

'We are looking for a balanced approach to the issues such as traffic, access and development highlighted in this report. Knowing what is on people's minds is important to everyone involved with managing pressure and change to the countryside.

'Our contribution is a programme of work for a living countryside which embraces change for the better, for the benefit of the countryside and for

people,' he says.

-- Copies of Public Attitudes to the Countryside, CCP481, are available from the Countryside Commission Postal Sales, PO Box 124, Walgrave, Northampton NN6 9TL, (tel: 01604 781848), price£4.

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