This study conducted a secondary analysis of data from a previous study of the geographical distribution of ‘undisturbed’ countryside in England. It juxtaposes the proportion of undisturbed countryside in each local authority area against the total built area including gardens. It finds a strong non-linear relationship with the proportion of undisturbed countryside tending towards zero as the proportion of land built on tends towards 20%. Since the 1960s expansion of the road network has contributed more than expansion of settlements to the loss of undisturbed countryside, although the two are interrelated. These findings challenge the inference often made in political and professional debate that incremental expansion of settlements will cause only minor environmental losses. Green belt policy in England, which encourages green field housing in small settlements around cities, whilst allowing the expansion of roads through green belts, is accelerating the loss of undisturbed countryside, and should be changed.
Melia, S. (2020). Urban expansion, road building and loss of countryside - a non-linear relationship. World Transport Policy and Practice, 26(2), 44 - 51