More than 100 square metres of forest, open land and water in North Somerset has been developed upon in the three years to March 2022, new figures show.
The developments – which include homes, industrial buildings, transport and utility sites among other uses – have been built on areas such as grassland, forests and waterways, including lakes, canals and reservoirs.
Under legislation derived from the EU, Natural England instructs new developments to be nutrient-neutral, meaning developers must demonstrate their plans won’t add to the ecological burden on local habitats, or pay for mitigation if they do.
However, this requirement will be watered down to become guidance under the changes proposed.
Meanwhile, the latest figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities show 101.3 square metres of forest, open land and water in North Somerset has been converted into developed use from 2019-20 to 2021-22.
It accounted for 15.2% of the total land use change completed in North Somerset in the three years to March 2022.
In total, 308.4 square metres of non-developed land, which includes but is not limited to forest, open land, water, agricultural land, vacant sites and residential gardens, were developed upon in the three years to March 2022.
Across the UK, 48,500 hectares of non-developed land were built upon, of which 4,800 were forest, open land or water.
One hectare is a square of land with sides 100 metres long.
Mr Gove's plans intend to provide an additional 100,000 new homes in England by 2030, saying: "We are committed to building the homes this country needs and to enhancing our environment".
But the new plans follow the Conservatives backing off on house-building targets in December after a revolt from backbench MPs.
In May, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would loosen greenbelt building restrictions and "back the builders" to increase the number of homes built.
Mr Starmer told Sky News: "We've got to drive housebuilding at pace. We need to put local areas in charge of that so change the planning rules, have development corporations as vehicles on the ground to drive building, and make sure that the dream, the aspiration of owning your own home is realised for so many people who at the moment have had their dreams shattered."
The figures show 9,600 hectares of greenbelt land had been converted into developed use between 2019 and 2022, of which 1,100 were for residential use. This compares to 14,200 hectares of non-greenbelt land developed for residential use.
In North Somerset, 57.6 square metres of land were built on for residential purposes between 2019 and 2022, though this includes land that was previously developed and non-developed.