Suburban MP seethes at prospect of travellers’ camps in his back yard.

The Conservative party have accused deputy prime minister John Prescott of damaging rural areas by approving traveller camps on green belt land. The party said that Prescott was “wrecking parts of England’s rural environment” by approving 30 camps in the eight years since Labour came to power.

The green belt, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this month, has come under increasing pressure as demand for housing in the South-east grows. According to the Conservatives, new planning rules to downgrade green belt status will give traveller camps special treatment, with ‘regional housing boards’ setting targets for each council to allow new traveller sites irrespective of how much space they have.

Shadow Local Government Minister Eric Pickles, whose Brentwood and Ongar constituency is facing the prospect of traveller sites being imposed on the orders of John Prescott, said: "The British public want fair play. There shouldn't be one set of rules for travellers, and another for everyone else. Green belts are vital to protect our rural heritage. I fear that local communities are increasingly powerless to defend their local green fields from a barrage of inappropriate development."