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Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, condemned the government's decision to permit 10,000 houses to be built...
Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, condemned the government's decision to permit 10,000 houses to be built in the green belt between Stevenage and Hitchin as 'the most appalling environmental decision since the war'.

Mr Lilley said:

'This is not just a local disaster. It is a national disaster. By giving permission for the first ever major house building project on green belt land, John Prescott has created a legal precedent which will undermine the sanctity of the green belt nationwide. A thousand acres of concrete in the Hertfordshire countryside will be the tombstone of green belt policy in Britain.

'It is not only an environmental issue, it is a democratic issue. The

decision to build was steamrollered through Hertfordshire CC by a Labour/Liberal coalition using a shoddy undemocratic manoeuvre. It

was decided by a small committee with the active support of only 14 of

Hertfordshire's 77 councillors. Had the full council been allowed to

vote, the plan would have been rejected if just a couple of Labour

rebels had sided with the Conservative opposition. The Labour/Liberal

ruling group prevented this by manipulating standing orders so that the full council was never permitted to vote on the plan.

'Paddy Ashdown refused my pleas to dissuade his local councillors from

this anti-democratic manipulation. Now John Prescott has refused to

overturn their anti-environmental decision. A thousand acres of concrete in Hertfordshire will be the graveyard of Labour and Liberal claims to be 'green' parties.

'I will be working with CASE (Campaign against Stevenage Expansion), the Council for the Protection of Rural England and Friends of the Earth to see whether there are any legal levers to overturn this damaging decision. This ought not to be a party political issue. So I urge everyone who believes in the green belt to write to their Labour or Liberal Democrat councillors and MPs throughout the country asking them how they can defend this democratic and environmental abuse. We must shame them into putting pressure on the government and Hertfordshire CC to think again - even after the eleventh hour.'

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