HC Deb 17 July 1980 vol 988 cc643-4W
25. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress he is making in his efforts to prevent an unacceptable amount of good agricultural land being lost each year to urban development.

Mr. Wiggin

I am considering, with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, how, within the context of the general planning system, greater protection can be given to land of a higher agricultural quality. Some useful progress has already been made. My Department continues to apply rigorously existing Government policy so that land of a higher agricultural quality is not taken for development where land of a lower quality is available, and no more land is taken for development than is really required.

In the 12 months ending last April, the Ministry objected to about 250 planning applications involving the proposed development of 6000 acres of agricultural land in England. As nothing more was heard of the great majority of these cases it is reasonable to assume that the objections were successful.

27. Mr. Chapman

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has completed his consideration of the need to make changes in the classification and grading of agricultural land.

Mr. Wiggin

No, but consultations are taking place.