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Land Loss

Volume 932: debated on Monday 16 May 1977

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the total staffing establishment of that section of his Department which is wholly or mainly concerned with scrutinising planning applications to prevent the loss of good agricultural land; and how many of these staff are based in: (a) London and (b) elsewhere.

This work is one of the responsibilities of the Land Service within the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service. The present complement of the Land Service is 503. The number of staff undertaking this work as part of their duties comprises two based in London and 253 elsewhere.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether, when considering a planning application which would involve the loss of good agricultural land, his Department takes into account the overall land loss throughout the country in any particular year, or whether it decides solely on the basis of the merits or otherwise of the particular site in question.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him on 17th March.—[Vol. 928, col. 291.]

Latham asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food upon what criteria his Department decides whether an area of agricultural land is of significant size to warrant consideration of whether to register an objection against its being developed for urban or other non-agricultural use.

The size criterion applied is that in Article 15(1)(i) of the Town and Country Planning General Development Order 1977 (SI 1977, No. 289) for consultation by a local planning authority with my Department, namely, where in the opinion of the authority there is a likely loss of either 10 or more acres of land used for agriculture or less than 10 acres that would lead to further loss.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in what proportion of cases where his Department is consulted over proposals to develop agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes his staff actually visit the site to assess the worth of the land by personal examination.

My Department's standing instructions require an inspection in all cases unless the divisional surveyor is satisfied that he already has sufficient information.