Government to allow building on one-third of farmland

A leaked government report reveals that 15 million acres, a third of Britain’s total farmland, will be free to be developed by local authorities.

The Ministry of Agriculture is to give up its veto on the development of prime farmland in its forthcoming rural White Paper for England, according reports leaked to the media on 7 November. Decisions on the future of so-called “best and most versatile” (BSV) land, reported to be a third of Britain’s total farmland, will be made by local authorities, revising the post-war principle that the first use of the countryside should be to grow food.

It is expected that development will mainly take place in the southeast of England, where an acre of land with planning permission can easily be sold for £1 million.

“For proposals affecting BMV land the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will no longer exercise its unique powers to intervene in development plans, nor seek to be consulted on individual planning applications,” the report, which is expected to be published before Christmas, allegedly states.

Farmers will also reportedly face “environmental” checks under the reforms, in which they must gain permission from the ministry before starting new agriculture activity on their land, such as cultivating downland.

Countryside campaigners and Conservatives fear that the proposals will allow more development. “Farmland will be less protected than it is now,” said the NGO, the Council for the Protection of Rural England. “It exposes the Government’s hidden agenda of concreting over our precious green fields,” commented Conservative Environment Spokesman Damian Green MP. “It beggars belief that in the middle of the current floods, the Government is contemplating even more development in the countryside.”

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