With local elections just a few weeks away, the Surrey Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is calling on all candidates to prioritise the environment and especially the local countryside and green spaces in their election campaigns.

The charity has published a Manifesto for Surrey’s Countryside which sets out a series of policies aimed at strengthening the protection of the county’s landscapes and the natural environment, and encourages people to reconnect with nature.

CPRE Surrey chair John Goodridge said: “We are urging candidates and political parties to commit to the overall goals of our manifesto. We hope that candidates will not only agree with these aims but will be prepared to pledge that if elected they will work to implement CPRE Surrey’s Manifesto policies, which we believe are vital for the future of our local countryside.”

The manifesto sets out 10 policies:

1. Protect our countryside, our Green Belt, our Local Green Spaces and AONB (Surrey Hills National Landscape) from inappropriate development, urban sprawl and noise pollution, so that our county remains attractive and tranquil for future generations;

2. Preserve the special character of Surrey’s towns and villages, our conservation areas and historic buildings, and safeguard their historic setting from intrusive development;

3. Put pressure on relevant authorities to meet local housing needs in our towns and villages by ensuring the provision of well-designed, appropriately-sized, high quality homes that local people can afford;

4. Counter the threats to Surrey’s countryside from the climate and ecological emergency though our collaborative work with new and existing partners;

5. Enable everyone to enjoy our environment and reconnect with nature in safe, accessible, local countryside, with well-maintained walking and cycling routes in every Surrey district;

6. Promote public health and wellbeing by properly maintaining parks and open spaces so that all communities have opportunities for outdoor recreation in their own neighbourhoods;

7. Improve environmental quality by reducing traffic congestion by promoting sustainable transport, boosting investment in local bus services, and striving to meet and exceed current targets for waste reduction and recycling;

8. Ensure dark night skies – an essential part of our rural landscape and vital for our wildlife – through measures to reduce light pollution and ‘night blight’;

9. Promote nature conservation, wildlife protection and increased biodiversity through policies that encourage sustainable farming and land use, and better land management by public bodies, businesses and private individuals;

10. Support sustainable local food production by encouraging farm shops and farmers’ markets and by supporting community allotments.

For further information on CPRE Surrey’s work to promote, protect and enhance the county’s countryside and natural environment, please visit the website www.cpresurrey.org.uk or follow the charity on social media.

A total of 136 seats in six local councils are up for re-election this May, including a third of the 30 seats in Woking.

A full list of candidates standing in Woking can be found at https://tinyurl.com/Wokingelections

No seats at Waverley Borough Council are up for re-election, but by-elections will be held in Farnham Castle ward and Witley & Milford.