What is Green Belt Land and Its Purpose

Landscape

Green belt land refers to an area that is kept in reserve for an open space, most often around larger cities. The main purpose of the green belt policy is to protect the land around larger urban centres from urban sprawl, and maintain the designated area for forestry and agriculture as well as to provide habitat to wildlife.

Green belt offers a number of benefits for both urban and rural population. By preventing the urban sprawl, it helps protect agricultural activities and the unique character of rural communities. Urban population, on the other hand, is provided an access to an open space which offers opportunities for outdoor activities and an access to clean air.

Areas that are designated as green belt must not be built upon because green belt is defined as an open space, however, that does not mean that no buildings can be erected in green belt. Buildings for agricultural uses and sanitation facilities, for instance, are usually allowed. In some cases, it is also possible to change the use of land in green belt and even gain permission for structures that are officially not allowed in green belt. However, such cases are very rare and the local authorities grant permission only if no suitable site for the building can be found in the urban centre or outside the green belt and there is an accessible business electricity source.

Landscape

Green belt policy may not work well in all areas and has been a subject of criticism in the recent years, however, its advantages by far outweigh its disadvantages. The UK government therefore encourages local authorities to protect the land around the towns by creating green belts. At the moment of writing, green belt land covers about 13 percent of total area in England, 16 percent in Northern Ireland and 2 percent in Scotland. Wales has only one formally designated green belt area which is located between Newport and Cardiff.

The UK benefited a lot from green belts in the last 50 years because only 12% of the total area is covered by forests making air quality and suitable wildlife habitat highly problematic. Things have been changing for the better over the last few decades by using eco friendly heating by charnwood stoves or solar panels, but the country is still lagging behind other European countries when it comes to percentage of forested land. Green belts do not solve the problem related to low forest cover in the UK but they significantly improve air quality and help combat a number of environmental problems.