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The ‘Green Belt of the Future’ seminar

by Paul Addison on March 10, 2017 No comments

According to the chair of the Natural Capital Committee, green belt should be preserved and treated as a crucial feature of the country’s natural capital ‘asset register’.

The ‘Green Belt of the Future’ seminar was hosted at the GLA building in London, where Professor Dieter Helm was speaking.

Helm spoke of noting;

“Decades of an almost entirely fruitless debate between people who think that the economy is on one side of the debate and the environment on the other”.

He continued, that this was;

“An entirely sterile debate, and the wrong way to think about the argument; it misses out the enormous opportunities that come by viewing the environment as a key part of the economy”.

Connecting the need to protect the green belt, and to the need of trying to define the country’s natural capital assets, Helm clarified how natural capital’s main interest and concern is the idea that the environment…

“is a set of assets in overlapping ecosystems that are just as important as any other assets in the economy”.

Continuing to describe it as;

“a hard and measurable concept with proper accounting and balance sheets”.

Implied by Help, was that just like green belt,

“natural capital needs to be situated right next to the people to whom it will provide the maximum benefits.”

Janet Askew, the director of academic engagement and enhancement at the University of the West of England, was at the same event and gave a passionate defense of the green belt saying;

“If nothing else, we should leave this room today knowing that London has been influential around the world at defining what a compact city is. The green belt is a sustainable policy and it works. Those calling for building on green belt were unimaginative, recognising that, for them, building on flat green land is “much better and profitable than dealing with brown.”

Though there has not yet been as much weight on the green belt as there is now, the recently published housing white paper was received well by Askew, for not showing any weakening of government policy towards it.

The policy officer at the RTPI, Joe Kilroy, was also in attendance at the event, and handed out the institute’s practice note on the green belt, which states the following;

“green belt boundaries may well need to change, but only through careful reviews over wider areas than single local authorities, and where safeguards are put in place to ensure that development is sustainable, affordable and deliverable in a timely manner, and without prejudice to the renewal of brownfield land”.

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Paul AddisonThe ‘Green Belt of the Future’ seminar

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