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Polytunnels: Planning Permission

Volume 459: debated on Monday 30 April 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his policy is on planning procedures for (a) existing and (b) new agricultural polytunnels; what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on such procedures; and if he will make a statement. (131019)

While Communities and Local Government (CLG) has overall responsibility for planning policy in England, the interpretation of planning regulations is a matter for the local planning authority in the first instance.

Polytunnels are important to the horticultural sector for helping growers to supply a wide range of high-quality produce over a full season. Crops, especially soft fruit such as strawberries, need to be protected and polytunnels provide an ideal, cost-effective solution. Growing fruit in polytunnels is in line with DEFRA’s Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food in that it meets demand for home grown fruit all the year round. However, extensive polytunnels can have a significant impact on the landscape and the local planning authority must consider each case on its merits.

I have had no discussions with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on the question of planning policy for polytunnels, but DEFRA and CLG officials work closely together on this issue.