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Environmental Protection & Preservation


David Miliband Urges Radical Land Use Rethink


Environment Secretary David Miliband today called for a "radical rethink" about land use to take account of climate change impacts and to enhance the quality and beauty of our environment.

Climate change, greater understanding of how our lifestyles affect the natural infrastructure of water, air, soil and biodiversity that underpins human life and well-being, the need for new homes and the emergence of new technology mean that we need to reassess how we make decisions on land use to leave a better legacy for future generations, Mr Miliband said today.

Looking at how land designations can be climate change proofed, Mr Miliband said there was "potential to put the green back into the green belt" as well as the development of 'turquoise belts' alongside rivers and waterways to protect homes against flooding while improving biodiversity and recreation.

Mr Miliband told a Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) conference:

"The way we use and manage land fundamentally affects our economy, our environment, and our social cohesion. We face new pressures that will force changes in how land is used and managed, from demographic change to climate change. Preservation of the status quo is not an option.

"I want to ask 'what is land for?' and why do we value land? We need a new consensus and a new vision for Britain and how it makes the most out if its land.

"Creating a country where we get more economic, social and environmental value from our land will require reforms to our systems of planning, land use and agriculture."

Mr Miliband stressed that climate change meant that land use would have to change, with more used to generate low-carbon energy through wind-farms, solar power and biofuels, as well as forests and wetlands to absorb carbon emissions.

"There will continue to be a need for development, the question is where should it take place and what sort should it be. We must move towards zero-carbon development. Where development is taking place, it is possible to massively reduce its environmental footprint.

"The majority of land will remain farmland, but the environmental footprint of farms must change. This will require major change - farming methods that reduce water pollution and soil erosion, and greater use of biofuels. We must think how our farming subsidies can deliver the maximum level of environmental public goods."

Mr Miliband paid tribute to the CPRE's contribution over the last 80 years, and called for a more "proactive and positive" approach to land.

"Environmental value is protected and preserved rather than proactively enhanced. We need to think of quality green space as a sort of infrastructure - as more land is developed for houses, business, roads or railways we need to find ways to invest in 'green infrastructure' in and around cities and towns where most people live."





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