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Country News - 2005

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New clash over town "country belts"

Tuesday 01 February 2005

A NEW Government policy aimed at making better use of the rural landscape around urban centres has received a strong rebuff from land-owners - because they were not consulted.

The Countryside Agency, working with the Groundwork organisation, published its "vision for connecting town and country in pursuit of sustainable development" only last week.

It envisages networks of footpaths, bridleways, cycleways and nature reserves around towns and cities to form "continuous green corridors between town and country" - and also suggests these areas could be used for the expansion of towns as areas for the building of affordable housing.

This rosy picture, however, has not been received well by the people who actually own the land involved, according to the Country Land and Business Association.

Douglas Chalmers, Northern Director of the CLA, described the plan as "fanciful" because it failed to address serious problems facing landowners and farmers who work land near towns - and who had not been consulted when the proposals were drawn up.

He commented: "The farmers, owners and managers of land on the outskirts of urban areas all have an economic interest in that land which needs to be respected.

"Where access to agricultural land and waterways is negotiated voluntarily, and effective measures can deal with problems such as fly-tipping, dogs worrying livestock, disturbance of angling and impact on wildlife that unmanaged and unrestricted access can bring, the countryside in and around towns really can be managed for the benefit of everyone."


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