U-turn on greenbelt

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THE Government did a U-turn yesterday in an attempt to dampen criticism of its environment policies before John Prescott's statement on house building on greenbelt land.

The minister for the regions, Dick Caborn, told MPs that he was withdrawing proposals in the Regional Development Agencies Bill, which give regional development agencies compulsory purchase powers, for a re-think.

The concession was aimed at reducing tensions over the threat to the greenbelt before the statement by the Deputy Prime Minister to the Commons next Monday on the Government's long term plans for housing in Britain.