It has recently come to my attention, via certain petitions and my own research, that a massive chunk of the environmental management of our country is in danger of deteriorating – the Greenbelt.The Greenbelt of the UK, or indeed of any country, is a policy for the use of controlling urban growth, which means that it is in place to stop the growth of urbanisation and the growth of already sprawling settlements. This not only helps to curb the vast cloud of pollution (less urbanised areas and more rural areas suggests that less pollutants e.g. Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, etc. will be produced and therefore not lend themselves to pollution) but it also has many other purposes and benefits
According to the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework), some of the uses of the Greenbelt are to:
– assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment (basically means that it helps to stop people, mainly large scale urban policies, from intruding on the countryside and destroying it, intentionally or unintentionally).
– assist in the securing of nature conservation interests (so to preserve the environment and habitats of wildlife, allowing wildlife to return/reestablish/establish itself).
These purposes of the Greenbelt means that for many years it has been a safe refuge for wildlife, a place were no large corporation can simply just walk in and stamp the natural environment around them to a flattened pulp. Of course, the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 means that people can still propose to build on the Greenbelt; but it has greatly decreased the rising tidal wave of urban development- now don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-urban development, but when it threatens to engulf entire wildlife habitats then that’s when we need to step in and clear up the mess that we made in the first place.
“In the green belt there is a general presumption against inappropriate development, unless very special circumstances can be demonstrated to show that the benefits of the development will outweigh the harm caused to the green belt” (source: Wikipedia), what this means is that something that has been proposed can only be built in an area of Greenbelt if it is more beneficial (not just to the Greenbelt but also to the wider community/environment) than the harm that it causes to the Greenbelt (e.g. Pollution, loss of wildlife habitat, etc.). So you see, the Greenbelt protects and helps enormously with wildlife and environmental management (okay it may not help everybody, and ok it doesn’t protect every bit of environment, but it’s doing what it was set up for, and doing it well), thus ensuring that parts of our great countryside are protected from being overshadowed by a concrete jungle.
But it’s under threat of shrinking. Yep, you heard right; the figures tell of a Greenbelt that is shrinking, perhaps slightly, but still shrinking – over the course of 2012, 2013 and 2014 the Greenbelt has overall decreased by 540 hectares. And that’s not all, it’s not just that overall it has decreased by so and so hectares, but it’s affecting people as well, people who don’t just sit and watch as a piece of their natural environment is taken from them.
You may have heard of the group ‘Hands Off Goshen’ – they are a community against the development of 1000 houses on Grade 1 Agricultural Greenbelt land in Musselburgh, Scotland. A developer is planning to build 1,000+ houses, schools and community buildings (like a small village) on the greenbelt land at Goshen. This is grade 1 agricultural land and also home to lots of wildlife.
Here in their own words:
“Here is the wording we have on the petition which explains it all pretty well:
Do not approve the development of housing at the Goshen Farm site.
Why is this important?
We feel it is important because work at St. Clements Wells, Wallyford (1,450 houses) has now started. We therefore see no need for any additional housing at the proposed Goshen Farm development. Our main objections to the development are: the inevitable increase to the traffic in the already heavily congested town of Musselburgh: and how this development would merge the towns of Musselburgh, Wallyford and Prestonpans into one urban area with the subsequent loss of the individual towns’ identities.
In Addition, if Goshen development goes ahead we will lose…
– A huge section of already diminishing Greenbelt land.
– Some of the best Grade 1 agricultural land in Scotland. This is a precious resource.
– A wildlife corridor which allows migratory birds to reach the Lagoons.
– A section of the historic Pinkie Battlefield site.
I guess the real problem is the council have to build houses and have not really done much research into the community before choosing sites.” Here is their e-petition, please sign and lend your signature to this cause: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-goshen-green-belt
Here you can see that as a community the people of Goshen have stood up for the protection of the environment in their area, and as it becomes increasingly more difficult for wildlife to move around freely in heavily urbanised areas, due to man made barriers such as fences and walls stopping them (hedgehogs, deer, badgers,even birds as you can see here, and many more – they’re all suffering from this limited movement that not only limits their foraging patterns, but also their search for a mate and even for territory) then it becomes ever more important to keep areas like this from becoming developed in an extreme fashion.
If you want some more info on the Greenbelt and its benefits you can visit this site: http://www.politics-greenbelt.org.uk .