People in Worsley constituency got an early Christmas present with the news that the Transport Authority has agreed to support the return of our Sunday rail services – a campaign I highlighted in my last column in the Advertiser. Congratulations to the Friends of Walkden Station for campaigning for this change.
I hope there will be similar success for community campaigners who are opposing Salford Council’s proposals to remove land in Walkden and at Barton Moss from the Green Belt. The need to protect such land as a “green lung” in urban areas is well understood and campaigners have some compelling arguments to resist the changes.
Burgess Farm is a working inner city farm and the open land there is much valued by local people. Areas like Barton Moss are habitats for protected species of birds. For instance, there are breeding Barn Owls there and the council has a duty to protect species like these under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
There are also strong strategic reasons for Salford to think again about its proposals for the proposed loss of valuable Green Belt land. One argument being used for the loss of our Green Belt is the need for industrial land at Barton Moss. However, our vision for employment in Salford should not just be for jobs in warehouses and factories. Other cities are seeing thousands of green jobs in future - jobs such as retrofitting homes, public and commercial buildings to make them more energy efficient.
Our vision for Salford should also focus on growing more food locally. If urban agriculture and market gardening were part of our vision, the council would not be proposing to get rid of Grade One agricultural land and working farms in urban areas. We need to focus on regional growers of food and these could be within Salford.
Other cities are looking to the future of quality neighbourhoods where social and environmental factors are important. I urge Salford Council to listen to community campaigners. We all need to think about how we can keep and improve our Green Belt land and develop a new vision for the city with green jobs and sustainable communities and neighbourhoods. Such developments would improve the well-being of our communities as well as being popular with people locally.