CPRE has just unveiled a revolutionary new way of measuring and mapping one of the most important things the countryside gives us all: tranquillity.
This ground-breaking work produced by researchers from Northumbria and Newcastle Universities enables a ‘tranquillity score’ to be given to 500m squares throughout the country, and an average score has been calculated for each county council, unitary authority and large conurbation in England.
Our new map shows, in detail and across the whole of England, how likely the local surroundings are to make a visitor feel tranquil. The spectrum of colours ranges from deep red – within towns and cities and along major roads – shading through orange and yellow to a rich green in the most unspoilt areas of deep countryside with big views and little man-made noise.
Our new mapping method gives us a practical, reliable method of showing where tranquil places can still be found. The method can be used locally to examine smaller areas in depth and analyse levels of tranquility on a smaller scale, identifying important pockets of tranquility close to busy areas, and working to protect them.
This is the start of our campaign to persuade national and local government, planners, developers, business, and public bodies to start using it, in order to safeguard tranquil areas for the future and even enhance them.
What is tranquillity?
The research for this new project began with a large survey to identify the factors which promote, and undermine, a feeling of calmness and peace.
What makes us feel tranquil? – the top 8 survey responses:
- Seeing a natural landscape
- Hearing birdsong
- Hearing peace and quiet
- Seeing natural looking woodland
- Seeing the stars at night
- Seeing streams
- Seeing the sea
- Hearing natural sounds
What stops us feeling tranquil? – the top 8 survey responses:
- Hearing constant noise from cars, lorries and/or motorbikes
- Seeing lots of people
- Seeing urban development
- Seeing overhead light pollution
- Hearing lots of people
- Seeing low flying aircraft
- Hearing low flying aircraft
- Seeing power lines
HELP US PROTECT OUR TRANQUIL AREAS BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE
The shocking news is that the average score for Cheshire makes it one of the least tranquil of the shire counties, ranking 33rd out of 34, just ahead of Surrey.
When all of the areas of England are considered, including unitary authorities and large conurbations, Cheshire still only ranks 56th out of 86.
More people in Cheshire need to realise the impact of rapidly growing road and air traffic and increasing development on the tranquility of our beautiful country – and help Cheshire CPRE to act now to halt the loss of this vital attribute of our countryside.
Just some of the current threats to tranquility in Cheshire:
- Despite brownfield targets proposing that previously-used land is built on before greenfield sites are used, the draft Regional Spatial Strategy for the North West proposes a huge increase in new building and infrastructure, some of which will have to go on greenfields and in the North Cheshire Green Belt.
- According to the Government, traffic levels will increase by 31% between 2000 and 2015 if current trends continue. The growth on rural roads is most rapid. Many of our Cheshire towns are already clogged with traffic. The proposed widening of the M6 through Cheshire will slice through tranquil places and its impact in terms of noise, increased traffic and further development will be felt over a wide area of the county.
- Manchester Airport and Liverpool Airports have recently proposed massive expansion up to 2030, encouraged by the Government’s controversial 2003 Aviation White Paper. The impact of this in terms of noise, air pollution and increased road traffic movements will add to the factors that take away tranquility. Manchester Airport is also calling for the Green Belt to be reviewed to allow for the expansion of activities.
- The North West is the most heavily light-polluted region in England, and tranquility is lessened by spreading sky glow across our county as fast-growing use of poorly directed outdoor lighting blots out views of the stars.
How the maps were made
Researchers began by consulting more than 1,300 countryside users and visitors across England on their perceptions – what it was in their surroundings that did, and didn’t, make them feel tranquil. There was a wide diversity of views but most revolved around three themes – landscape qualities, the impact of man-made noises and the presence or absence of lots of people.
The new measurement method takes into account factors contributing to feelings of tranquillity, such as sweeping views of open countryside, and factors detracting from those feelings – like busy roads and large man-made structures intruding into views.
Then, working from these responses, the team employed computer-based techniques and geographical databases to show how likely every part of England is to make a visitor feel tranquil. England’s land mass was divided into squares measuring 500 metres by 500 metres, each given a tranquillity score and colour-coded.
To see the labelled map of Cheshire as a .pdf file, click here. (The file opens in a new window).
CPRE’s new tranquillity campaign is supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.