Supermarkets "manipulate" planning - Friends of the Earth
FRIENDS of the Earth, one of Britain's most outspoken environmental groups, has joined the long list of "green" organisations to register its opposition to the spread of the giant supermarket chains.
This is already a highly controversial topic in the Yorkshire Dales and many other rural areas where the retails giants are accused of putting local retailers out of business and driving farmers and market gardeners to the edge of bankruptcy by paying rock-bottom prices for their produce.
Tesco, which two weeks ago announced profits of £2.5 billion, has been given permission by Whitehall to double the size of its Skipton store although planning permission was refused by the local council and the company has also launched an appeal against planning refusal for a new store in Harrogate, said to be the biggest town in England without a Tesco.
There is a long list of consumer groups opposed to further supermarket expansion ranging from the Women's Institute to the Country Land and Business Association and the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
But there are widely held suspicion that as the "stealth" tax burden rises, and inflation rears it ugly head once again, the Government is keen to keep food prices down by giving covert support to the big retailers.
Yesterday, Friends of the Earth added its voice to the clamour in a report called "Shopping the Bullies" in which it claimed that there was "widespread manipulation" of the planning laws by the supermarket chains.
The Government is at present in the middle of a widespread review of the planning laws and Friends of the Earth fear that they will be tilted even further in benefit to big retailers.
The report concludes: "Planning laws should be strengthened - not weakened - to curb the growth in supermarket development."