‘Noisy protest’ over green belt plans

Protestors outside St Helens town hall
Protestors outside St Helens town hall

Hundreds of protestors made their voices heard outside St Helens town hall over the fate of the borough’s green belt.

Campaigners from Rainford, Windle, Billinge and other affected areas of the borough joined forces to stage a ‘noisy’ protest in Victoria Square.

Banging drums and ‘playing’ vu-vuzelas, they pressed home their message to scrap the council’s controversial local plan.

The much-hated scheme would see homes and businesses built on green belt land.

Campaigners in Rainford are particularly incensed that the village will lose much of its green belt.

Rainford Action Group also says the plan goes against Government policy.

Groups opposed to wide-scale development on St Helens’ green belt say Theresa May’s comments in the House of Commons last week indicate that proposals in the St Helens Local Plan would be rejected if put before an independent planning inspector.

James Wright, chair of the Rainford Action Group, said: “The Prime Minister’s comments and the huge number of responses to the consultation show the St Helens Local Plan should be radically rewritten and the proposals for building on the borough’s green belt removed.

“We’ve said all along the population growth predictions, housing need estimates and employment figures in the Local Plan are unproven and do not justify concreting the countryside of St Helens.

“As councillors consider how they should save money to cope with the financial shortfall the council faces, one way would be to review their Local Plan. To take it forward any further in its current form would be throwing away taxpayers’ money and a gross waste of the council’s limited resources.”

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons last week, Theresa May confirmed the government’s stance that green belt land should only be built on as a last resort. That commitment followed the recent housing white paper published by the government that stated the green belt could only be developed in “exceptional circumstances”.