Jon Trickett MP :Levelling up is another Tory sham

Held-back regions like ours have seen very little action.Held-back regions like ours have seen very little action.
Held-back regions like ours have seen very little action.
In December the Conservative government brought their long-awaited levelling up and regeneration bill before parliament.

Jon Trickett MP writes: I must say it was underwhelming even by my very low expectations.

Over three years since the Conservatives promised to ‘level up’ held-back regions like ours and we’ve seen very little action.

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Relatively small pools of money have been allocated for the purpose of levelling up and research by my office has shown that the areas that need it most are not the ones getting it.

Frankly, levelling up is another Tory sham.

But the biggest controversies in parliament over this bill related to its ‘regeneration’ element.

The Tories proposed a swathe of changes to planning rules that would’ve made it easier for developers to build on green belt land.

Over the last few months in parliament I have been pressing the government very strongly to drop these proposals.

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After pressure from Parliamentarians the government did drop some of their plans but there is still more to do to ensure our green spaces are protected.

I specifically raised the issue of the proposed Huntwick Grange development to the South of Featherstone with the government minister.

This proposed development is not wanted by the community but there is a risk of local democracy being overruled by government diktats.

It is a perfect example of why it’s so important to protect the green belt.

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This development would see 1,500 residential homes, nine hectares of employment space and significant new road-building on land including green belt.

The development would come at heavy price, with the wholesale destruction of habitats for rare species, with at least 17 species under threat.

There’s clear evidence in an environmental study of the site, about the sheer scale of the devastation for biodiversity and wildlife this development would cause.

However, it would make a lot of money for big developers. In my view it is unacceptable for private profit to be placed before the protection of areas of outstanding natural beauty, green spaces and natural habitats.

I raised this issue multiple times in the House of Commons.

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The response from ministers sought to assure me that they are committed to protecting the green belt, but they must go a lot further to ensure the bill doesn’t have that precise effect.

I have also called for an immediate halt to plans for the Huntwick Grange development in the Yorkshire Post, as well as a UK-wide halt to similar projects along the lines of the fracking ban.

It’s vital that the government protects our natural environment and puts an end to needless destruction.

In the New Year I will continue pushing them on this issue.

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