Green Belt key to overcoming modern climate challenges say campaigners - The Evesham Observer

Green Belt key to overcoming modern climate challenges say campaigners

Evesham Editorial 21st Aug, 2023   0

THE Green Belt is the indispensable solution to climate, nature and food security challenges, says the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.

The CPRE says the Green Belt is being overlooked as a pivotal solution to climate change, the decline of nature and vulnerabilities to food security.

In its latest report the charity argues that the Green Belt, which protects 12.5 per cent of England’s land area from development, should become greener, wetter and more biodiverse.

It shows 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 five per cent will be delivered as social rent and at best only 31 per cent will meet the government’s controversial and highly contested definition of ‘affordable’.

It says rewiggled streams, new wetlands, restored peatlands, expanded woodland and revived hedgerows could help the countryside around towns and cities soak up more water to protect urban areas from increased floods, droughts and other natural disasters.

Food security could be strengthened by creating nature corridors that link rewilding projects with farmland and encouraging people to buy food produced locally that enhances the environment where they live.

Tourism and recreation should be encouraged, with better footpaths, facilities and public transport links, so that people get maximum benefit from the improved environment.

The CPRE in State of the Green Belt 2023 recommends:

Doubling the amount of Green Belt farmland covered by environmental land management schemes, from the current 28 per cent to over half.

Creating 350,000 hectares overall of new woodland and wetland close to urban areas.

That the proposed Land Use Framework integrate planning, farming and forestry policies and programmes to protect and enhance the countryside close to where people live, particularly in and around our largest towns and cities.

To help tackle the acute housing crisis in the countryside small ‘rural exception sites’ 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

Roger Mortlock, chief executive of CPRE said: “To reverse the decline of nature, improve food security and provide the affordable homes local communities need, the answer is to be found in integrated planning, farming and forestry policies.

“We need all the main political parties to commit to keeping Green Belts for the long term.

“Current Green Belt policy already allows for building more genuinely affordable homes on brownfield sites or the edge of villages.

“But more needs to be done to deliver these homes, as currently most of the housing being built in the Green Belt is larger open market housing. We must be clear about the challenges ahead and put nature at the heart of the solution.”


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