Award for protection of rural life

By Post  
Monday 4th January 2016 4:52 pm

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THE CAMPAIGNER at the forefront of bringing Petersfield into the South Downs National Park has been given a prestigious gong for his tireless countryside work.

Now Christopher Napier (71), awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours, faces the challenge in 2016 of protecting our rural environment under threat by new homes, fracking and more.

Christopher, of Durford Wood, was chairman of the Hampshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), for eleven years, and is now the chairman of CPRE Hampshire’s voluntary planning and policy group.

He was instrumental in gaining public support for the South Downs becoming a national park in 2011. And he led the CPRE campaign to have the “the wonderful stretch of countryside” of the Western Weald – which includes Petersfield – included in the park. “It was a huge achievement, and hugely important to the countryside of this part of the world, and Petersfield,” he said.

On the housing issue, he is mindful that affordable homes are needed, to allow everyone to have the chance to live in this “beautiful, thriving countryside”. But systems had to be adhered to, to make sure they were built in appropriate places. The south of East Hampshire, for example, had come under a lot of pressure from housing.

To this end, CPRE Hampshire, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, has launched a Green Belt campaign. And this bid, to have a protected green area around the national park, which would border urban areas like Horndean and Waterlooville, is something he will be working on in 2016. “It could be a winner, but we’ll see,” he added.

On fracking he said: “My concern is the landscape issue when it comes to things like water pollution and what’s happening underground.” More needed to be known on the environmental impact. “We’re not saying it can’t be done, it depends on how it is done.”

CPRE Hampshire’s chairman Dee Haas said: “Christopher is dedication to the preservation of the Hampshire countryside and he continues to fight to keep it unspoilt and tranquil. This recognition is truly deserved.”

Christopher praised the CPRE volunteers and staff.

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