18 October 2017
An interpretation of Green Policy by DJN for the North Herts and Stevenage Green Party (Oct 2017)
The Green Party is a staunch defender of green belt land
Green belt is mentioned several times in our policies and also in our 2017 Manifesto. Whenever green belt is mentioned the Green Party strongly support its protection.
The Green Party wants to extend a basic protection to the whole countryside, and legislate to prevent further destruction to wildlife habitats, soil, landscape, ancient monuments and our countryside heritage. All farmland and open countryside is environmentally sensitive, and the Party wants to produce a network of protected sites. The Green Party is committed to the protection of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserves, Special Areas of Conservation, and Scheduled Ancient Monuments: to this list we would add local nature reserves (LNRs) as they are not specifically mentioned by name, although “land of local importance” is mentioned.
For example, in our Policy on the Countryside, point CY562 it says; The Green Party will retain and rigorously strengthen Green Belt legislation as a positive measure to revitalise the countryside, improve quality of life for people in cities and large towns and encourage the extension of green wedges into the cities.
a) Make rural communities rewarding places to live and work in, reducing and reversing rural depopulation and out-migration
b) Extend environmental and social impact statement into all areas of decision-making
c) Encourage the development of thriving urban and rural communities
d) Reduce speculation in land in both urban and rural areas.
In our Policy on Local Planning and the Built Environment, point LP407: The Green Party strongly supports the provision of green belts to contain urban sprawl, to maintain the separation of settlements, to protect prime agricultural land around settlements, to encourage urban regeneration and compact towns and cities, and to complement the ecological and cultural value of other designations listed in LP405. The Green Party would put a greater emphasis on the green belt’s use for wider sustainable development considerations such as flooding, biodiversity, agriculture, energy production and sustainable transport. The local authority role in reviewing and protecting the green belt is set out in LP510
Also in our 2017 Manifesto it mentions strong protection for the Green Belt, National Parks, SSSIs and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. From policy: also, wildlife-rich brownfield sites.
A home is a human right
A tension exists between development of land for homes and preservation of the countryside. The Green Party believes that a comfortable warm and secure home is a basic human right. From our Policy on housing:
HO100: Affordable, secure and comfortable accommodation is a basic human right.
HO403: Housing provision targets should be based on housing needs surveys from local authorities; commercial house builders should not be involved in choosing sites or assessing needs
HO410 f) The built environment can be important for some species. Enhance where possible for birds, bats, insects and plants.
How the tension is resolved
Brownfield should always be developed first where appropriate. If loss of countryside is deemed necessary the tension is resolved by applying a stringent decision-making process. Firstly, it must be proved that houses are needed at a local level and choice of land should be rational, free of profit-making concerns. Wildlife-rich brownfield sites should also be protected. Secondly, the area must be thoroughly surveyed, including for ecological value and biodiversity. Thirdly, re-designation of the land can halt or change the development.
Development should always go on the least sensitive, most accessible land.
1. Choice of land
Speculation and profit-making by selling land for development should be reduced by demand-reduction policies such as taxes and compulsory purchase. This will create the ability to choose appropriate land - rather than availability being decided by the sellers, as it is now.
2. Evidence-base for development
The land needs to be thoroughly investigated, as does the decision-making process, according to the following:
The functions of the green belt should be unaffected
The landscape should be taken into account
The land may be important at a local, regional, national or international level and this must be taken into account
The Local Plan should be underpinned by a vigorous evidence base including: availability of land, requirements for housing, employment, local ecology and ecosystems and the historic environment
Designated land should not be used such as floodplains, LNRs, SSSIs, AONB etc, ancient (or preferably any) woodlands
Prime agricultural land/tillable land – this is valuable and the Green Party would prefer not to lose it
The effects of climate change, eg likely shortages in fresh water or changes in the availability of arable land must be taken into account
3. Re-designation of the area (to indicate environmental or other value) will result in no development
Thus, the least sensitive, most accessible land should be chosen for housing. The Green Party approach for damage to wildlife is “avoid, mitigate and compensate” in that order.