Sir, I fear the new Government planning policy, which was immediately implemented, will serve no better to protect the countryside than the one it replaces.

It still talks of sustainable development which it defines as ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. Without a crystal ball, there is no way the Government can predict future needs. As the policy does not safeguard arable farming land, and we now import at least 80 per cent of fruit and about half that percentage in vegetables, we are in an unsustainable position already and any reduction in farmland will obviously deminish future generations sustainability.

As for the promised local accoutability, the policy has an awfully hollow ring about it. Section 150 says local plans need to reflect the vision and aspirations of local communities, but the following section 151 says local plans must be prepared with the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development. So that appears to rule out the local option of saying no to development.

Terry Randall Grove Street Wantage