Land blocked? UK ‘faces 2 million hectare shortfall’

Space to grow fruit and vegetables, crops for ‘green’ biofuel and build homes could soon be hard to find. New research led by Cambridge academics suggests the UK faces a […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Space to grow fruit and vegetables, crops for ‘green’ biofuel and build homes could soon be hard to find.

New research led by Cambridge academics suggests the UK faces a shortfall of 2 million hectares by 2030.

With the UK’s population predicted to reach 71 million, an extra 7 million hectares of land – more than 35% of existing agricultural land – could be needed to cater for more food, space and renewable energy sources.

On the other hand, researchers at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) calculate only 5 million hectares might be freed up.

Part of the problem is landowners make decisions “based on what they will be paid for”.

The report also points the finger at “piecemeal” research on land use across different government departments and the lack of “a single overarching land use vision”.

Businesses such as Asda, Sainsbury’s, Nestlé and BASF added to the report as well as the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).

Dr Chris Brown, Sustainable Business Director at Asda said: “Businesses need clarity to inform supply chain choices and guide investment decisions.”

The NFU’s Chief Land Management Adviser, Dr Andrea Graham added: “This report shows that agricultural land will need to be multi-functional, delivering a range of goods and services.”