Monday, 24 September 2012

Hands Off Our Land: Loss of green spaces breeds social strife, warns Mears

Ray Mears called for the protection of green spaces everywhere.
'All my life I’ve seen wonderful areas being built on,' he said

Ray Mears, the survival expert, has joined a growing chorus of voices concerned about unrestrained development, warning that a shortage of green spaces can lead to the sort of social disruption witnessed during the summer's riots.

Responding to the Government's proposed radical planning reforms, Mears said that a rising population was not an excuse to create a concrete jungle.

The 47 year-old, whose television series have demonstrated ancient survival skills, urged politicians to recognise the importance of Britain's remaining areas of wilderness.

"You can still get away from everything. Despite the populous nature of our country, there are still great opportunities for feeling a sense of wildness," he said.

He warned that open spaces were constantly under threat from developers.

His comments come after The Telegraph launched the Hands Off Our Land campaign. Explaining his fears, Mears, who returns to ITV1 next Friday with the second series of Wild Britain, said: "Roads are much busier than they were. There are a lot more people around. We need to develop a new reverence for wild places. They are more important and more under threat than ever before."

The Government's draft National Planning Policy Framework aims to make it easier for planners and builders by removing red tape. Opponents including the National Trust have expressed concern at the inclusion of the "presumption in favour of sustainable development" which they have labelled a developers' charter.

Mears, who grew up in Surrey, stressed that it was not only the countryside that needed protecting, and that a lack of green space in the inner cities might explain the sort of frustration that boiled over during the riots.

"All through my life I've seen wonderful areas being built on," he said. "I grew up in Surrey, an area with big houses with big gardens and a lot of wildlife. Those houses have been bought up by developers, knocked down and replaced with small blocks of flats.

"People cry out, 'We need places to live.' That's true. However, we must also make sure we have green spaces. If we don't, we'll end up with one giant urban conglomeration.

"And I think we saw earlier this year what attitudes that can spawn in the people who are oppressed in those areas. You didn't see people rioting in the bits of London that border big parks."