This has been a busy week in Parliament and I have taken part in debates on re-wilding, the personal care sector workforce and asked a question of the defence minister in the Urgent Question on Wednesday.
The Westminster Hall debate on so called “wild belts” was really well attended, which meant we were on a three minute time limit. But that gave me enough to articulate that in Hampshire the local Wildlife Trust has always been ahead of the curve. There are some great re-wilding schemes locally, and I am always impressed with the way the Trust brings people on board not just as visitors but as volunteers. I can still remember going for a lovely walk around Emer Bog in North Baddesley years ago looking for adders (we didn’t find any) and listening to the Chief Executive talking then about creating green corridors for nature.
I have also this week had a meeting with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government about the proposed reforms to the Planning System. One of my many challenges to him was to do something about the land banking of sites like the Brewery site. I delighted in explaining to him that the last brew at Romsey Brewery started on my 11th Birthday, when I was still at Romsey Abbey Primary School. Since then we have been waiting for the site to be built out, and I explained that I am not 21, 31, or even 41 anymore, and still we wait for the developer to stop dragging his heels. MHCLG need to introduce a mechanism that gets prominent brownfield sites prioritised not just for permission, but for building to take place, so we can get the homes that are needed without digging up yet more greenfield sites. I also made a pitch to have a Green Belt around our cities, supporting the local CPRE’s campaign. Hampshire has no Green Belt, save for a tiny corner in the South West of the country designed to prevent the spread of the urban conurbation of Bournemouth, which, lets face it, is in a different county!