HC Deb 25 July 1986 vol 102 cc573-4W
Mr. Nicholls

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will publish the report he has received from Huntings Technical Services Ltd. following its research project on changes in the countryside.

Mr. Waldegrave

Yes. I have now received the report from Huntings Technical Services for their work carried out under contract to this Department and the Countryside Commission. They examined how the main features of the landscape of England and Wales have changed since the late 1940s. Copies are being placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.

This report makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of changes that have taken place in the countryside. It has produced a whole range of statistical information which will be of value to the researchers, will enable further monitoring and analysis to take place, and provide a better factual base on which to build our plans for the future.

The main findings of the report demonstrate the significant expansion of the area of built-up land, and the growth in the area of farmland under crops. It also demonstrates the growth in the total area of forestry, mainly caused by the expansion of coniferous forests, together with a substantial fall in the area of semi natural vegetation. The study also indicates that the total length of hedgerows in England and Wales has fallen dramatically. The detailed figures in the survey are subject to considerable margins of statistical error, but the broad conclusions are believed to be reliable. Further detailed studies are being undertaken.