As reported in The Press on Tuesday, a Parliamentary Committee of MPs warned in their recent report that the UK’s ability to feed itself is threatened by “complacency”.
They point out that while 20 years ago we produced 87 per cent of the food we consumed, today that figure is 68 per cent.
This is a cause for concern because climate change, population growth and the steady depletion of natural resources are combining to threaten food production worldwide, meaning that in future it will be harder to import cheap food from abroad.
What makes this trend to be less self-sufficient in food even more worrying is that Britain faces a significant farmland shortage as it is, with an estimated extra seven million hectares of farmland needed by 2030 just to meet the demands of an expanding population.
All of which makes the proposals contained in York’s Local Plan to build thousands of houses on prime farmland seem very short-sighted, if not simply foolish.
There may well be a need for more houses, but not if it means that citizens of York will face food shortages, as well as much higher prices for such basics as bread, milk and vegetables.
Clearly more effort needs to be made to identify brownfield sites that are suitable for development, while ensuring that farmland is regarded as strictly off limits.
Colin Campbell, Fulford, York.