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Planning Reform

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 31st October 2011.

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Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss Conservative, South West Norfolk 2:30 pm, 31st October 2011

What recent assessment he has made of the level of protection afforded to high-value agricultural land in his proposed planning reforms.

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Decentralisation and Cities) (also in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills)

The draft national planning policy framework contains strong protections to safeguard high-value agricultural land and recognises the importance of food production. We are now carefully considering the responses to the consultation.

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss Conservative, South West Norfolk

Food and farming are vital to tourism and exports in Norfolk, and its produce is of very high quality, as the Secretary of State found out when he visited the Norfolk food festival in Parliament earlier this month. Does the Minister agree that the planning framework should take into account the long-term value of agriculture, as once farmland is lost, it is very hard to get back?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Decentralisation and Cities) (also in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right—and when I was talking to the Secretary of State earlier, he extolled the virtues of the pies available at the Norfolk food festival. We must take into account the long-term value of food security as well as the short and medium-term economic benefits of food production.