ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
 Date:  1 December 2000


Looks like this Lincolnshire council is moving in the direction taken by councils in Norfolk, Dorset and Scotland.
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Council's bid to ban GM crops - Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph , 17 November 2000

THE first steps towards banning the growing of GM crops are being taken by a local authority. West Lindsey District Council has begun a long process of attempting to force an end to the controversial trials of winter rape with sites at North Kelsey and Spital-in-the-Street.

It is the first authority to flex its muscle by calling for an investigation into whether the sites need planning permission. And if other authorities follow suit there could be enough strength to launch a legal challenge against the Government and get the trials stopped, according to campaigners.

Kate O'Connell, of Lincolnshire's anti-GM group the Gaia Trust, says at least a dozen other councils subject to trial sites are considering similar moves. And Environment Secretary Michael Meacher has said: 'If enough councils object to the trials, there will be no alternative but to stop them.'

Ms O'Connell said: 'That's what we're working towards. 'West Lindsey has been brilliant, getting there before anyone else. 'No one council will succeed alone, but together they should have a strong enough voice that even the Government can't ignore,' she said.

The aim is for at least 10 councils to call for a halt on testing or question the legality of the trials in planning terms so that the Local Government Association takes up the campaign. At present the Government sanctions GM schemes, saying there is no need for local planning permission and consultation because the trials are defined as agricultural. But the Gaia Trust, in tandem with Greenpeace and other groups, believes this is wrong.

West Lindsey councillors have now unanimously called for a report from officers investigating whether GM crop testing can be outlawed because it constitutes a change of land use. They want testing sites to be redefined from agriculture to research, which would put them under the Town and Country Planning Act of 1990.

This would force consultation and give the council the power to refuse permission. The officers' report, which is to be presented back to members early next year, could lead to legal action against the Government over GM sites although West Lindsey is unlikely to go it alone for fear of the cost to taxpayers.

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