Food and shelter

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Malcolm Fraser’s article,
“Assault on the Green Belt” (Perspective, 7 December), about proposals for up to 3,500 new Edinburgh houses, some of them on greenfield sites, was both welcome and timely.

I wish to emphasise one important negative consequence of this plan, namely, the loss of good quality agricultural land.

There are several reasons why our food supply is likely to become markedly more scarce and more expensive in the near future. The continuing exponential increase in world population will produce a rising demand for food.

Decreased poverty (or increased purchasing power) amongst vast numbers of currently malnourished people across the world will cause greatly increased food prices.

Global warming, causing rising sea levels and consequent loss of agricultural land, will reduce world food production and
increase prices. Climate change (causing, for example, drought) will adversely affect crop yields, once again causing increased prices. Terrorist activity affecting ports, sea transport and food imports cannot be ruled out. Britain’s vital dependence on the importation of food was only too obvious during both world wars.

It is quite clear that the security of our food supply may in the future depend much more on our degree of self-sufficiency than it does at present. In, say, 50 years’ time good farmland may be our most precious resource. To put it permanently beyond use by any avoidable greenfield building developments would be nothing short of criminal.

(Dr) John Slee

Hopetoun Terrace

Gullane, East Lothian