Leave our Green Belt alone says Trust

Why, says Bath Preservation Trust, is B&NES declaring a strong public commitment to address the Climate Emergency, and mitigate carbon emissions, but at the same time putting the Green Belt at risk of slow erosion.

The Trust says that at the recent Local Plan Partial Update examination, the Council attempted to push forward the removal of land from the Green Belt, citing ‘exceptional circumstances’. The University of Bath has also expressed a similar intent. 

A Trust release continues: “These exceptional circumstances are to enable both organisations to build new buildings or install infrastructure – hardly the actions of environmentally responsible public bodies.  

Bath Preservation Trust urges the Council and the University to think again, as an act so at odds to their public, ‘green’ agenda diminishes the intent and authenticity of their commitment. It also gives a message to others that the Green Belt does not matter. 

The truth of why this is happening is concerning. It is easier and cheaper to remove land from the Green Belt for ‘exceptional circumstances’ than it is to obtain planning permission. It is possible to obtain planning permission within a Green Belt, but conditions require development sizes to be limited and mitigated to protect views, with more landscaping provided. If land is removed from the Green Belt, it opens the potential for any development to be bigger and more imposing. In the long-term it puts a significant premium on the land as a site for future housing development within a green setting, but with less rigorous planning restrictions.  

Land recently requested for removal may only be a small proportion of the Green Belt, but if allowed it would set a precedent, which BPT believes would embolden the further release of undeveloped sites under ‘exceptional circumstances’. The recent Local Plan Partial Update saw requests received from B&NES Council. In 2023-2024 a new Local Plan will be created, in which it is expected more submissions for the removal of Green Belt land will feature.  

Famed for many things, Bath is renowned as a World Heritage City set within a luxuriant green landscape of deciduous woodland, grassland and meadows, which is our important Green Belt. It is a natural haven for wildlife, for people, and is an important environmental balance which compensates for the pollution arising from the urban centre. Green Belts were established more than 50 years ago to limit urban sprawl and demarcate conurbations from rural areas. In the face of the global Climate Emergency, they play an even more important role today, absorbing carbon emissions and cleansing air.

CEO of Bath Preservation Trust, Alex Sherman, said “The Green Belt of Bath is intrinsic to the city as a World Heritage Site, which lists the green setting as part of its Outstanding Universal Value. It should be untouchable for large development and protected for future generations. Adult trees within the Green Belt absorb huge volumes of atmospheric carbon, so are essential in the fight against climate change, with each adult tree absorbing up to 25 kilos of carbon. We believe more trees are needed and the Green Belt should be extended, not eroded. As well as the environmental benefits, our green spaces are important for physical and mental wellbeing and wildlife and must be protected.”

For more information, follow @BathPresTrust on Instagram and Twitter, or visit http://www.bath-preservation-trust.org.uk  

1 Comment

  1. Let’s play devil’s advocate here. The Green Belt has been a climate and ecological disaster forcing car dependency on many that work in the city and is probably responsible for trillions of extra road miles driven by those living in Radstock and other satellite towns and villages. Even the picture you use is of pasture is an example of an ecologically poor environment.

    Now if all green belt was required to be re-wilded we might go some way to fixing the historical carbon debt. Let’s not forget that the Georgian’s got it right. 4-5 story dense apartment blocks surrounded by parks is what we should be building everywhere we can (with community heating and to passive house standards). For example, Charlotte street car park should be put underground and we should have 4-5 story Georgian style apartment blocks built on top. We need dense cities not urban sprawl.

    The green belt has prevented urban sprawl, but let’s not pretend in anyway that it is anything other than an immense generator of carbon and effectively an eco-death carpet. This is pure greenwash sadly.

    I’m not defending the developments btw, as I suspect they design in car dependency. I’m very much an advocate that you should only be building new homes within 2km (20 minute walk) of a train station and you need to be building dense 4-5 story apartment blocks with good public realm. If you can’t do that. It’s up to the developers to build a train station/rail line if there isn’t one. Making positive noises about bus services doesn’t count. It has to be a train station.

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