Letters to the Editor - 12/11 - Greenbelt benefits, Best of Twitter

Greenbelt benefits

[Re: The Greenbelt sacred cow: It pens in the poor for no environmental gain, yesterday]

Professor Anne Powers (LSE) estimates that there are sufficient brownfield sites across London to provide the necessary housing for the next 20 years. Surely we should be looking at how we design affordable housing, in areas that are in real need of regeneration, rather than building on green areas which make London so liveable? It is simplistic to label all of London’s Greenbelt as “intensive agriculture”. Once you take into account some of the vital functions and services it offers, there isn’t a significant proportion that is viable for housing and other developments. Roughly 57 per cent is used for agriculture, half of which supports environmentally sensitive farming. Another 18 per cent is woodland; and 24 per cent is Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The spaces also act as climate buffers, offering flood plain and run-off areas. They provide climate mitigation, health benefits (via air quality improvements) and urban cooling, among other things. One study of London’s metropolitan Greenbelt estimated that lowland heath contributes £5,000 worth of ecological services per hectare, and semi-natural woodland £9,000 per hectare. These are clear social, economic and environmental values that are worth protecting.

CPRE London

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