Green Belt: Environment Protection

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 23 July 2021.

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Photo of Joy Morrissey Joy Morrissey Conservative, Beaconsfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of special environmental protection for agricultural land in the Green Belt.

Photo of Joy Morrissey Joy Morrissey Conservative, Beaconsfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that agricultural land on Green Belts is being preserved for agricultural purposes.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Farming efficiently and improving the environment will be rewarded through our future farming policy. The Government recognises the need to protect the natural assets which are essential to the production of food in this country.

We regularly assess the effectiveness of environmental protections and work closely with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure that planning supports agriculture and food production as well as protecting and enhancing the environment. This is reflected in the National Planning Policy Framework. The Framework requires local planning authorities to take into account all the benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land. Where significant development of agricultural land is shown to be necessary, planning authorities should seek to use poorer quality land in preference to that of a higher quality.

We are committed to protecting and enhancing the Green Belt, as set out in our manifesto, which is created by local authorities to prevent urban sprawl and the merging of settlements. Green Belt policy in the National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that open land is an essential characteristic of Green Belt, and that most new buildings in a Green Belt are inappropriate and should be refused planning permission unless justified by very special circumstances.

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