THE green belt planning system came into force 50 years ago today and the anniversary immediately became the centre of a bitter row amongst politicians from London and the South East.
But a survey published by one of Britain's best-respected rural protection bodies showed that feelings are running high in the North, too, with a massive 85% of Northern residents demanding that green belts should be protected.
Most of the national debate is centred around the home counties, where Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott wants green belt land released to make space for hundreds of thousands on new homes.
But a survey by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) released today says that only 15% of the population wish such development to take place in the North.
In Yorkshire, there are fears of belts disappearing in mid-Wharfedale, where land between Ilkley and Otley would be worth hundreds of millions of pounds to developers, and in Airedale between Skipton and Keighley, where there has been a running dispute for years between locals and Bradford Metropolitan planners who want to see massive development around Silsden and other villages.
Marking the 50th anniversary, and the modern day threat to green belts, CPRE planning chief Henry Oliver commented: "Green belts need to be rigorously defended yet even professional planners. Who should be their strongest defenders, scoff and say they are too simple and to restrictive to be a 'proper' planning tool."