§ 8. Mr. Chapman
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his estimate of the acreage of land designated for agricultural use lost to other development or uses in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary fo the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Jerry Wiggin)
The average yearly loss of agricultural land to development or other uses, excluding woodlands, in England in the five-year period ending June 1980 was 18,500 hectares, or 45,800 acres.
§ Mr. Chapman
Does my hon. Friend agree that that is far too much land lost for agricultural purposes? Does he agree also that it is ridiculous to expect our farmers to produce more and more on less and less land? Does he further agree that the overall policy assumes absurd proportions when, by my calculations, at least 250,000 acres of land lie derelict in our towns and cities?
§ Mr. Wiggin
Part of my duty is to seek to ensure that development is steered away from high quality agricultural land and therefore I can willingly answer in the affirmative to the first part of my hon. Friend's question. Derelict land is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, and we are in touch about that. It is to the great advantage of both parties if derelict land is redeveloped.