Criticism and Disadvantages of Green Belt Policy


The idea and implementation of green belt policy brought a number of benefits for both people living in the countryside and in urban centres as well as for the environment. More than 50 years have passed since the implementation of the first green belt in the UK, however, the policy of keeping strips of land reserved for non-developmental purposes has its disadvantages too which is why it has been criticised by some groups in the recent years. None of these groups suggest to abandon green belt policy but they point out to its disadvantages which perhaps have not received enough attention over the last few decades.

Interestingly, the critics of green belt policy have attacked the environmental challenges that remain unsolved despite the fact that green belts are claimed to help preserve the natural environment. Green belts have undoubtedly helped save the habitat for wildlife and retain the landscape, however, it is also true that some areas that are designated as green belt land have little or no value for the environment and urban population. The best example is green belt land that is used for intensive agriculture. It does not provide recreational opportunities nor access to clean air and environment due to the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides which are harmful to both the environment and humans.


Another disadvantage of green belt policy is creation of a physical barrier which prevents the normal expansion of the urban centres. It may appear beneficial for the environment, however, development of suburban communities further out green belts does not only affect the quality of life of people living in these communities but it also poses unique environmental challenges as it increases the need for cars which are among the most serious pollutants.

The last but not the least problematic is building restriction in areas that are designated as green belts. It is crucial to preserve a certain percentage of landscape for non-developmental purposes but on the other hand, the next generations will face great difficulties finding their own home without increased building activity. Keeping the green belts “green“ without affecting the quality of life of the nearby population might become challenging in the near future, especially if the number of people working and living in the urban centres continues to increase. And the trend is not encouraging as over 92% of the UK population is estimated to live in cities by 2030.