Specially protected beauty spots are under threat from developers as never before because of an "assault on the rules", countryside campaigners said yesterday.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England published a list of nine "jewels in the crown" which the group said were or could be under threat from the diggers.

The nine - all either in national parks or areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) - include the A590 Low Newton bypass in the Lake District which is already under way, a proposed race track, and a football stadium.

The list includes a number of developments set to be the subject of planning inquiries with others already approved or awaiting decisions.

Tom Oliver, head of rural policy at the CPRE said: "The whole basis on which the nation's most beautiful countryside is there to be enjoyed by us all is called into question by a series of damaging proposals.

"Protected landscapes are only protected to the extent that the Government and local authorities obey their own rules.

"Time and again, it appears that the Government or a local council is tearing up the rules when a significant conflict arises between one of our finest landscapes and another interest.

"We have to ask, 'What is the point of having laws that protect our precious countryside if they are ignored when it really matters?'

The nine locations on the CPRE's "threat list" are: Cumbria: 3.8-kilometre dual carriageway bypass on the A590 around the hamlets of High and Low Newton. Under way Derbyshire: Proposal to renew activity at Backdale Quarry, north of Great Long-stone in the Peak District National Park. Inquiry awaited, Devon: Plan to develop Dunkeswell Racing Circuit affecting the Blackdown Hills AONB, Dorset: Plans to bypass a stretch of the A354 north of Weymouth which the CPRE says would damage the South Dorset Ridgeway and the Bincombe Valley in the Dorset AONB. Concerns for Dorset Wildlife Trust's Lorton Meadows Nature Reserve, ancient woodland in the Woodland Trust's Two Mile Coppice, and an area of archaeological interest. Planning application published n Kent: Plans for housing and science park in the Kent Downs AONB. Proposal Peak District: Plans to upgrade the MottramTintwistle bypass. Lincolnshire: Wind farm at Fen Farm, near Conisholme. CPRE believes it will cause "visual intrusion" into the Lincolnshire Wolds AONB. Approved Northumberland: Proposed wind farm at Plenmeller near Haltwhistle considered by the CPRE to be a "visual intrusion" to North Pennines AONB Sussex: New stadium for Brighton and Hove Albion FC and transport interchange at Falmer, within Sussex Downs AONB, proposed new national park. Permission granted subject to legal challenge.