No apologies for returning to the subject of the countryside and, more importantly in this case, farmland.
A recent position paper from the Sustainable Development Commission recommends that Defra should give greater urgency to updating its soil strategy and should give food production capacity a high priority in its planning. Whilst Professor John Beddington when speaking about the UK's future food security has forecast a 'perfect storm' arising from greater demand, stagnant production and climate change.
Defra and the Treasury have argued that the UK being a rich (relatively!) developed economy is in a strong position to buy sufficient food on world markets but this argument has been rejected by other countries notably USA and France whilst Scotland and Wales are looking at producing more food themselves rather than relying on other countries to supply them.
Forecasts suggest that Europe is less likely to be affected by climate change and water shortages than other continents however, this then leaves Europe in the position where they will be morally bound to produce food for those countries which are unable to supply themselves.
The Paper concludes that to continue to reduce food production when the UK has the soil, climate and the potential to grow more is inappropriate. "The loss of food growing land - to building, roads, 'development' -cannot be ignored. Soil is the most precious resource and everywhere needs to be kept in good condition to feed people."