Woodlands and Green Space

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th October 1983.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Freeson Mr Reginald Freeson , Brent East 12:00 am, 26th October 1983

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if his Department will take steps to encourage the provision of additional woodlands and green space in the inner city areas.

Photo of George Young George Young Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

My Department already encourages the development of green space and tree planting in the inner city. The amount of resources devoted to such environmental improvements under the urban programme in partnership and programme authorities has risen from £11 million in 1980–81 to some £20 million in 1983–84.

Photo of Mr Reginald Freeson Mr Reginald Freeson , Brent East

Does the Minister agree that, compared with the expenditure of about £18,000 million a year in local government, the figures that he has quoted for improving the environment and greening it are paltry? Does he agree also that one of the best ways to avoid the pressures on the green belt, referred to earlier, and to avoid pressures to build more housing estates way out in the countryside in the outer metropolitan areas, would be to have a massive drive to green the cities and create the environment and decent surroundings in which people have their homes?

Photo of George Young George Young Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

The figures may be small in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman, but they are double what he spent when he was a Minister in the Department. I agree that we must aim to make the inner cities more attractive for people to live and work in. I have recently approved environmental improvements under the urban programme in the London borough of Brent.

Photo of Anthony Steen Anthony Steen , South Hams

Would it not be better to halt the expansion on the urban fringe, with 60,000 acres of green field sites disappearing every year, and to fill the land on the register, of which there are currently 100,000 acres which are dormant or empty, or the 250,000 acres throughout the country which the Civic Trust says is idle?

Photo of George Young George Young Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

I would not dissent from my hon. Friend's broad proposition.