The Green Belt policy aimed at preserving the countryside immediately around London is often lauded as one of Britain’s environmental success stories. The truth, however, is almost the opposite. Although many of a green disposition see the countryside as the ultimate setting for green living, this is almost certainly not the case. Cities are in fact the centres of true environmentally friendly “greenness”.
Country dwellers tend to have large houses, multiple cars, longer journeys, less access to recycling facilities, and as a result of all this, huge carbon footprints – per household that is. Urban inhabitants tend to use public transport, cycle when they can, have fewer cars, have easy access to recycling facilities, and essentially share their resources on a large scale, leaving them with much smaller carbon footprints per household or person than in the country.
Now, it suddenly makes you wonder why we have a so-called ‘Green’ Belt policy after all. Surely it would make sense for everyone to live in cities, where everyone would have smaller carbon footprints, thus reducing the nation’s entire overall footprint. Admittedly there is a greater concentration of pollution in cities, but the overall amount for the nation would still be smaller.
The Green Belt not only does the opposite to what it says on the tin by restricting and preventing the environmentally beneficial mass immigration of country-folk to the concrete jungle, but it also keeps house prices in the cities artificially high (supposedly another ‘good’ result as it prevents urban immigration). At a time when we have a housing crisis in this country, with many unable to reach even the first rung of the property ladder, surely it makes sense to free up land for more housing. Apparently not: the Green Belt appears to have achieved such a cult status, that its urbanisation whether total or gradual is deemed unthinkable, if not downright evil. Sure, the scenery will be missed, but I’d much prefer for there to be a greener nation as a whole as well as affordable house prices, wouldn’t you?
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This post was written by Anton Howes