Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Hazel Blears: Green Belt no longer assured

Hazel Blears, the UK Communities Secretary, she refused to rule out redrawing green belt boundaries. And warned environmentalists to prepare for a showdown over house building in the green belt. Green Belts are land surrounding UK cities zoned to protect the countryside and contain urban sprawl.

Addressing the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, Ms Blears said the Government would move fast to ease the housing shortage freeing up greater swathes of land for development.

She said: "I think we are going to have a tussle, if you like, because some people are concerned about environmental issues," and added "But I think the priority has to be to build these homes."

When pressed if this mean drastically downsizing green belt land she said she was in no position to offer "categoric assurances". this is in contrast to pronouncements of the previous incumbent in the post, Ruth Kelly.

These comments should be taken in context with Gordon Brown signalling that housing would be a key part of his coming strategy.

Neil Sinden, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, warned that a move away from protecting the green belts would set Gordon Brown's new cabinet "on a collision course with local communities and environmental campaigners across the country."

"Green belt policy has been vital in securing sustainable urban communities, and attractive and accessible countryside close to where most of us live.

"The green belt is hugely valued by the public, 84 per cent of whom believe that it should remain open and undeveloped. The Communities Secretary's belittling of these views shows a disturbing disregard for public opinion."

“Disturbing disregard for public opinion”? Nothing new there then - but at lest he noticed commented. Clearly Broon does what Broon (and Nu-Lab) wants - and tradition, promises or public opinion appear to mean very little to him.

As things are many people seem to have no idea where bacon comes from, remove people's ready access to the countryside and it can only help increase their ignorance about such things - and reduce their quality of life.

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