Environment: Threat to green space

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The Government was yesterday under pressure to halt a local authority's "disastrous decision" to back the building of 10,000 new homes on Green Belt land.

Friends of the Earth challenged ministers to act after Hertfordshire County Council gave the go-ahead for a new settlement west of Stevenage.

The environmental group said the development will create an almost continuous urban sprawl between Stevenage and Hitchin.

But a spokesman for the Department of the Environment said it would not intervene until the council gave formal notice that it intended to adopt the modified plan.

The spokesman added: "The Government has recently re-affirmed its commitment to protecting the countryside including Green Belt in relation to out- of-town developments and is currently carefully considering responses to a Green Paper on household growth.

"In doing so, the Government is committed to make the best possible use of brownfield sites and urban areas to create jobs, re-generate communities and protect the countryside."

FoEarth said more than 4,000 people objected to the scheme at a public inquiry and the decision was made in the face of opposition from the Conservatives, the largest group on the council.

Simon Festing, FoE housing campaigner, said: "Labour has consistently said it would protect the countryside. Ministers must overturn this disastrous decision and review their housing policies to stop urban sprawl and allow house-builders to use derelict land in towns and cities."