§ Mr. Simon Hughes
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether the reference to little weight being attached to the loss of moderate and poor quality agricultural land in paragraph 2.5 of planning policy guidance note 7 "The Countryside and Rural Economy" refers only to that aspect of paragraph 2.4 which deals with the agricultural value of land; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Yeo
Yes. When paragraph 2.5 of PPG7 says that "little weight" should normally be attached to the loss of lower grade agricultural land it means little weight in terms of agricultural value; other factors such as landscape and nature conservation need to be taken fully into account. The PPG explains the Government's policy of encouraging rural enterprise, while ensuring that the environment is protected. It reminds planning authorities of the need for a balanced approach to rural development and conservation. The planning system helps to integrate development necessary to sustain the rural economy with protection of the countryside for the sake of its beauty, its diversity of landscape, its wealth of natural resources arid its ecological, agricultural and recreational value.