With Britain in the midst of a housing crisis, decades in the making, there are some who see development on Green Belt land as the answer.
But that not only destroys a crucial part of our ecosystem but also fails to address the desperate need for affordable housing.
A new report from countryside charity CPRE says that thousands of new homes are built and proposed on Green Belt land every year, but most of these homes will not address the housing crisis.
Only 5 per cent will be delivered as social rent and at best only 31 per cent will meet the government’s definition of ‘affordable’.
The CPRE has called for small ‘rural exception sites’, which can be used to deliver homes to address local needs consisting entirely or primarily of affordable and social housing on the edge of villages within the Green Belt.
Protecting the Green Belt sits hand in hand with the need to ensure that young people don’t continue to be forced out of rural areas.
The Green Belt isn’t just about protecting the tranquillity of the countryside. It also can be better utilised to protect urban areas from increased floods and droughts by creating new wetlands, restoring peatlands and expanding woodland. There is also the opportunity to boost biodiversity in this country through the Green Belt.
We need to stop seeing these elements as a nice-to-have and start viewing them as fundamental to the future of the planet. And farmers will be key not only to ensuring food security but also helping improve biodiversity. That’s why integrated planning, farming and forestry policies are needed.News