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WRITER Sir Andrew Motion is being backed to succeed Bill Bryson as president of a national conservation group.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) was integral to the creation of the South Downs National Park.

Bryson threw his weight behind the bid to make the dream of the park, which covers large parts of East Hampshire and West Sussex, a reality.

Sir Andrew, who was poet laureate and is a professor of creative writing at Royal Holloway, spoke at a CPRE event on Wednesday night of his passion for the English countryside, the inspiration he draws from its beauty and tranquillity, and how the countryside is a national asset that should be accessible to everyone.

He said: ‘To be proposed for this role is a mixture of joy, honour and a little trepidation, particularly when following in the footsteps of the current incumbent, the magnificent Bill Bryson.

‘But, if CPRE members will have me, then I am fully prepared to stand up for the countryside alongside them.’

“When Government planning reform could place two thirds of rural England at the mercy of a presumption in favour of development, this is a critical moment for the countryside and for anyone who wants a say over what happens to their community and their surroundings.”

Sir Andrew Motion will be proposed at the CPRE AGM on June 28. Bill Bryson has held the post since June 2007.

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