A COUNTRYSIDE charity has supported a campaign group as protestors continue to fight against proposals for two "mega prisons".

SWAP – Stop Wethersfield Airfield Prisons – has received the backing of the Campaign for Protection of Rural England.

The CPRE was founded in 1926 and has more than 40,000 members and supporters.

The group recently met with SWAP campaigners to examine the Wethersfield Airfield prison proposals from the Ministry of Justice.

The proposals are for two state-of-the-art, multi-million pound prisons on the site of the former RAF Wethersfield airbase.

If the plans are approved, they could be coming to Essex by as early as 2023.

The CPRE visited the site, and has now declared its support for the return of the airfield to farmland or a mixed-use country park and leisure scheme.

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In a statement, the CPRE brought up several issues relating to the project, including the isolated rural location, light and traffic pollution, and supply demand.

It said: “CPRE’s preference would be for the airfield to be returned to the use it had before the Second World War – agricultural purposes – especially as it lies surrounded by Grade 2 land.

“Alternatively, if the cost of reinstatement is prohibitive, a mixed use country park and leisure scheme might be appropriate.

“It could also provide opportunities for active leisure pursuits, such as walking, cycling and bird watching."

SWAP campaigners were pleased to receive such strong support.

Chairman Alan MacKenzie said: “We are very pleased that the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England has voiced support for returning Wethersfield Airfield to something which befits its place in the beautiful north Essex Countryside.

“The area, which was painted by the Bardfield Artists and is comparable to Constable Country, has to retain its countryside setting for the benefit of the entire county and not be ruined by a massive one mile long, three mile perimeter, four-storey high concrete block, sitting on a 300 foot plateau to be seen for miles around.”