News: Flood land rethink to protect homes

‘Turquoise belts’ next to waterways could protect habitats, provide leisure space and guard homes from flooding, according to David Miliband.

The environment secretary has called for a "radical rethink" about land use to take account of climate change impacts and to enhance the quality and beauty of our environment. The need for new homes combined with rising flood risk requires the re-think of Britain's land use, agricultural and planning systems.

“Climate change, greater understanding of how our lifestyles affect the natural infrastructure of water, air, soil and biodiversity that underpins human life and well-being, the need for new homes and the emergence of new technology mean that we need to reassess how we make decisions on land use to leave a better legacy for future generations,” Mr Miliband told a Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) conference.

“Preservation of the status quo is not an option,” Mr Miliband said, pointing out that we face new pressures that will force changes in how land is used and managed, from demographic change to climate change.

Mr Miliband stressed climate change meant land use would have to change, with more used to generate low-carbon energy through wind farms, solar power and biofuels, as well as using forests and wetlands to absorb carbon emissions.

"There will continue to be a need for development,” he said. “The question is where should it take place and what sort should it be? We must move towards zero-carbon development. Where development is taking place, it is possible to massively reduce its environmental footprint.”

“We need to think of quality green space as a sort of infrastructure - as more land is developed for houses, business, roads or railways we need to find ways to invest in 'green infrastructure' in and around cities and towns where most people live."

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