A BARNSLEY MP says he is doing all he can to protect the borough’s precious green belt land - having come under fire from campaigners who claim he has a ‘conflict of interests’ given his role as Mayor of the Sheffield City Region.

Keep It Green 2014, whose members came together to contest Barnsley Council’s local plan development blueprint and in particular a site known as MU1, claim Dan Jarvis’ recent comments about safeguarding land were ‘ironic’.

The Barnsley Central MP was referring to flood-prone local plan sites allocated for future development.

MU1 - the largest parcel of land in the plan - is situated between Pogmoor, Higham and Barugh Green and is former green belt which could yield 1,700 homes, a new school and multiple business opportunities.

A spokesman from Keep It Green said: “We noted with interest the comments from Mr Jarvis about proposed developments in Darton and Royston.

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“He strongly states that any proposed developments should be ‘balanced against the impact on the local community and the need to protect our vital green spaces’.

“It is ironic that Mr Jarvis, after showing some initial interest in 2014 when Keep It Green showed him round MU1 and asked him to support the campaign to preserve the agricultural green belt and the wellbeing of the surrounding communities, did not continue to show the same interest.

“We should not forget that as a local MP for Barnsley Central talking about protecting ‘green spaces’, and the Mayor of the Sheffield City Region supporting plans to destroy 122 hectares of green belt, he clearly has a conflict of interest.

“Of course, we should perhaps have realised that the aspirations for Sheffield City Region would always outweigh the protection and benefits of the green belt close to junction 37 of the M1, the welfare of its surrounding residents and the decimation of historical communities.

“We urge the council to embark on an urgent review of the local plan and be brave enough to reverse the decision on MU1, reinstating its green belt status.

“Precedents have been set by other local authorities revising theirs.

“The large numbers of walkers using the public footpaths across MU1, on a daily basis, demonstrates the need to retain this vital resource as a defence against the current and future pandemics.”

The Sheffield City Region allocated more than £10m to create a new access into MU1 last year, but Dan told the Chronicle he is working hard to protect - and enhance - Barnsley’s remaining green spaces.

“Local authorities must strike a careful balance between the protection of green spaces and ensuring that there are enough homes especially affordable homes for Barnsley families to live in,” he added.

“As the local MP and as the South Yorkshire Mayor I’ve been working hard to protect and enhance our green spaces.

“I’m working with The Woodland Trust to plant millions of trees, I’ve put natural flood management at the heart of our flood defence plans and I’m creating a first-class, green and sustainable bus network.

“I’ve secured very significant investment in walking and cycling infrastructure and we’re making good progress towards net-zero carbon emissions, improved air quality and tackling the climate emergency by 2040.

“I’m determined to build a stronger, fairer and above all greener economy for all our communities in Barnsley.”