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Letter: In Times of Food Shortage, Building on the Land That Feeds Us Seems Unwise

Published on: 18 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 18 Oct, 2020

From Fiona Curtis

In response to: Why Did We Lose Green Belt, And What Can We Do About It?

When the recently revealed algorithm for school examinations was shown to be nothing short of a disaster, the Conservative Party at least had the good sense to hold its hands up in a rare mea culpa moment.

Cllr Paul Spooner, and those who voted for a Local Plan that placed Guildford at the top of the green belt annihilation league, still revert to the absurdities of the Plan in an effort to encourage us to believe removing protection from 14.7 square kilometres of Guildford was done to protect the borough.

Green belt can be removed only at the time of Local Plan review. Since 2010, only four councils have removed more than 1,000 hectares or 10 square kilometres of green belt in one swoop. They were Coventry, Warwickshire, East Herts and surprise, surprise, Guildford.

One reason the list is relatively short is because it refers only to authorities that decided to build on green belt. Many others resisted and of course, some are not in green belt (because they don’t need it).

The Labour Party has had very little success in Guildford and Brian Creese’s comments [XREF?} perhaps reflect why. Protection of green views and spaces in and out of the town were supported, but wide open countryside cannot be created in the town, just as every village wouldn’t expect to have a railway station or an abundance of shops and other amenities on their doorstep.

Many people living in the town supported protection of the green belt because the countryside around Guildford belongs to them too. The notion that it is there to protect the views of a few wealthy people demonstrates a lack of understanding of its purpose.

Most of green belt is agricultural and, as we become less self-supporting year on year, I believe to cut off the hand that feeds us is extremely unwise.

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test 5 Responses to Letter: In Times of Food Shortage, Building on the Land That Feeds Us Seems Unwise

  1. John Morris Reply

    October 18, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    A couple of points in reply to Fiona Curtis’ letter, partly backed up by a quick search on Wikipedia [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_belt_(United_Kingdom)], which reveals that (a) 13% of the land in England was designated in 2010 as “green belt” and that (b) green belts are not synonymous with “countryside” nor with the best agricultural or food-producing land in the country.

    • Harry Eve Reply

      October 18, 2020 at 9:02 pm

      The point is that green areas feed us body and soul and the green belt was supposed to protect that source of public wellbeing by limiting urban sprawl.

      It is worth remembering that, under the previous administration, Guildford’s planners said they would be coming after more of our green belt in the future despite their previous claim that by giving so much to developers under the Local Plan was a way of protecting it!

  2. Sammy Jenkiss Reply

    October 19, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    It appears the obvious answer is the one not discussed. Why is it “easier” or “more profitable” to build on protected green belt land, than it is to redevelop brownfield sites? What system, process, procedures and politicians have our successive governments (Labour and Conservative) created that led to this situation?

    Legislative changes, incentive changes, culture changes, and so on, could easily change the preference to build on green land first, back to the sensible build on brown first.

    Those with the power, money, influence, and in political roles evidently have little or no desire to actually change this for the better. It’s funny, businesses may lobby easily for government change, but individuals, often with better ideas and holistic intentions, aren’t listened to.

  3. Jules Cranwell Reply

    October 20, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    Residents were never listened to under the previous Tory and Lib Dem regimes. We expect better from R4GV.

  4. Ben Paton Reply

    October 21, 2020 at 5:53 pm

    “…but individuals, often with better ideas and holistic intentions, aren’t listened to.”

    Spot on.

    There was massive opposition to the Local Plan. How many thousand objections in all the consultations?

    All ignored.

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