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Green Belt

Volume 555: debated on Monday 17 December 2012

The Government attach great importance to the green belt, which prevents urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open. Subject to the strategic environmental assessments, we are abolishing the last Government’s top-down regional strategies, which threatened the green belt in 30 towns and cities across the country. In addition, our new planning guidance on Traveller sites makes it clear that such sites, whether temporary or permanent, are inappropriate development on the green belt.

Villagers in Affetside in my constituency are worried that their concerns about a proposal to erect a 113-foot-high wind turbine in their village may not be listened to. Can my right hon. Friend give them, and others in a similar position who are facing the imposition of these giant wind turbines within the green belt, any further reassurance?

My hon. Friend raises an important point, and of course his constituents will be listened to. It is immensely important, though, to understand the wise words uttered by the Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles), a few moments ago. Planning is essentially a plan-based operation, and we look to local planning authorities to determine where a wind farm or a single turbine might go and, in particular, where they might not. If they do that, I think that my hon. Friend’s constituents will feel much more relaxed about the issue.

Developers in my constituency tell me that they can make far more money building on the green belt than on brownfield sites. Is not the reality that decontamination of brownfield sites in boroughs such as Sefton is needed to protect the green belt and boost the economy?

This is a continuation of a question that the hon. Gentleman asked me in the Select Committee. The truth is that we are making money available to ensure that contaminated brownfield sites can be dealt with. He is making an enormous mistake in suggesting that all brownfield sites are undevelopable; that is entirely wrong. Some brownfield sites are green and some greenfield sites are brown.

What overall impact does the Secretary of State estimate that the Growth and Infrastructure Bill will have on the green belt given the national planning policy framework that is now in place?

The green belt remains very safe and sound in coalition care. The position is clearly laid out in the national planning policy framework, and the Bill does not affect the green belt one iota.