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Unspoiled Countryside Unspoiled Countryside Anne Henshaw

12 May 2017.   

Why does land use matter now? As our population grows and we adjust to the pressures of globalisation, technological change and climate change why are we not more interested in the land?

All these issues come back to the question of how we use land, and despite stories about new houses, roads, flooding, the cost of food, water and energy, that central question is rarely discussed.

The fundamental question is how we can best use our limited land resource.  It is right that the debate should start with the provision of housing as shelter is one of the basic human needs.  From this follows transport infrastructure, the production of food and other natural resources such as water, timber and energy.

Brexit  offers an opportunity to think about how to develop a framework for a new strategic approach to the land use challenge we face as a nation.

At present the Government approach to land use is piecemeal.  The incentive-based approach to steering management decisions by landowners can run alongside the regulatory control exercised over built development.  A more integrated approach to the land requires a shift away from the present policy silos.

Lord Deben, Chairman of the UK Committee on Climate Change and former Minister of Agriculture, has suggested that what is needed is a Department of Land Use which would bring the strategic elements of DEFRA,  the infrastructure  in Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and long term transport planning in the Department for Transport all together.

Baroness Young, former CEO of the Environment Agency and the RSPB, and present chair of the Woodland Trust believes that a thought-through land strategy can help mitigate the impact of climate change and that there is the opportunity now to design an integrated land use strategy which enables the multiple uses we need land for to be rationalised and balanced.

A key to any wider strategy must be the engagement of people in the debate.

Development pressures intensify, the Government needs to kick-start the economy and the UK population, needing houses, jobs, public services and food,  is approaching 70 million....our land needs to work harder than ever wherever and whatever its nature.

The following photographs show different types of land - but how should we use them?


CPRE  have produced several Foresight papers relating to these issues and a pamphlet entitled  Landlines with a view to providing the basis for a broad coalition to press for a new land use settlement for the 21st century.  

The debate should start now.

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