The MP for Chislehurst has launched an extraordinary attack on the organisation that manages many of Chislehurst’s green spaces, accusing it of running a “smear campaign”.
The National Trust manages Hawkwood and Petts Wood estates which together cover 138 hectares of woods, fields and farmland. According to Bob Neill MP the National Trust is running “a carefully choreographed smear campaign by left-wingers” and is picking a fight with the Government” in an attempt to “justify [its] own existence”.
The outburst follows a response from the National Trust to the Government’s proposed planning reforms which the organisation says will lead to an automatic presumption in favour of development.
“[This] could lead to unchecked and damaging development in the undesignated countryside on a scale not seen since the 1930s,” the Trust says in a statement. “This finally sounds the death-knell to the principle established in the 1940s that the planning system should be used to protect what is most special in the landscape, creating a tool to promote economic growth in its stead.”
Earlier in the summer Mr Neill moved to reassure constituents that Green Belt land was safe from development under the coalition Government. In a number of letters to local newspapers he wrote: “It is worth emphasising that the Government has absolutely no intention of weakening its commitment to the Green Belt and that the Coalition Agreement’s unequivocal promise to maintain Green Belt protection still stands.”