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Almost 2 million acres of grassland lost as urban areas expand


A major loss of grassland and significant increases in urbanisation and woodland in Great Britain since 1990 have been revealed in a new scientific analysis of land cover changes across the country.

Using high-resolution satellite-derived data, the UK Centre of Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) has calculated the overall net gains and losses in land cover over 25 years in Great Britain between 1990 and 2015.

Kent had the largest net rise in urban land cover in terms of geographical area (136km2) between 1990 and 2015, while Edinburgh had the largest percentage increase (6 per cent).

Argyll & Bute lost the largest amount of grassland (739 km2) in Great Britain and gained the largest area of woodland (662 km2). This was symptomatic of the significant differences between England and Scotland, which lost a similar total net area of grassland between 1990 and 2015. In England, grassland was largely replaced by urban development, while in Scotland, there was a massive expansion in woodland at the expense of grassland and also arable farmland, with much less urbanisation. In Wales, the picture was more balanced, with a similar increases in urban and woodland cover.

The UK Centre of Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH), which carried out the study, pointed out that the landscape covered by new urban development, most of which was in England, constitutes an area almost the size of Cornwall.

Britain’s population soared from 57 million in 1990 to an estimated 65.6 million in 2016, with mass immigration responsible for 90 per cent of population growth in England between the years 2005 and 2014.

The Migration Watch UK think tank has previously claimed that keeping up with the additional housing demands driven by mass immigration will require the construction of the equivalent of one new home every six minutes, “night and day”.

Indeed, even in places like the South Downs National Park plans have been approved for the construction of 250 new houses every year.