The CPRE would like to know and it's "Our Green Belt" campaign has been launched 'to show the Government how important it is us'. According to the CPRE:
It’s where we relax. It’s where we watch wildlife. It’s where we take part in our hobbies. It’s where we eat and drink. It’s where we feel inspired. It’s where we make memories.
Powerful, evocative stuff.
According to a poll from Ipsos Mori though, which was commissioned by the CPRE itself, only 23% of people claim to know a 'fair amount' amount the Green Belt. A quarter of people in England have never even heard of the Green Belt and that figure is 62% for 15-24 year olds.
Even those who claim to know a 'fair amount' about the Green Belt will probably not be aware that it's five purposes as set out in the NPPF make no provision at all for public access of any kind, so it is not actually for relaxing and watching wildlife, but let's put that pretty important point to one side and consider whether those that are aware of it really do associate it with wildlife, hobbies, inspiration and memories.
Natural England monitor engagement with the natural environment and it records three general types of place (countryside, town and city, and coast), and within them the following specific types of place:
- Park in a town or city
- Path, cycleway, bridleway
- River, lake, canal
- Playing field or other recreation area
- Another open space in town or city
- Another open space in the countryside
- Country park
- Children’s playground
- Other coastline
- Mountain, hill, moorland
- Allotment/community garden
Now of course some woodlands, canals, country parks, etc are with the Green Belt, but proportionately speaking, those that are cannot make as much of a contribution to our collective experience than the woodlands, canals, country parks, etc that are not because there is significantly more green space other than the Green Belt (in England) than there is Green Belt (which accounts for 13% of land). Further, 33% of England's Green Belt is, as the Adam Smith Institute point out, intensively farmed. A good proportion of the remainder, it can be contended, is put to equine and golfing uses. The Green Belt is not the countryside.