§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Tim Yeo)
We will shortly issue a draft planning policy guidance note on nature conservation which will expand and update our existing policies to promote nature conservation in all areas, including the green belts.
§ Mr. Dykes
I thank my hon. Friend for being part of the Government who have enhanced and protected green belt districts more robustly than any other Government of the post-war period. I believe that total green belt space has doubled since 1979. I particularly thank my hon. Friend 325 and his colleagues for recently calling in the Hillside and Brookshill development in my district so as to protect still further the local green belt land. Is my hon. Friend aware that without fresh primary legislation it is possible to require owners of green belt land to ensure that it is maintained properly and not just left undeveloped?
§ Mr. Yeo
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving me the opportunity to reinforce the Government's commitment to protect green belt districts. We have been robust in dealing with planning applications in green belt areas, and we are wholly committed to the five objectives of the green belt. As my hon. Friend said, we have substantially increased the area covered by green belt in this country, and I welcome this chance to make absolutely clear to any planning applicants thinking of trying to develop green belt land that we shall stand by our commitments.