VAST TRACTS of the countryside will be swallowed up by housing if the government approves plans to build a million new homes.

A DEFRA study – dubbed the Barker report – has revealed that 77,000ha (192,000 acres) of greenfield land would be needed to carry out the massive house building programme.

The report makes “a mockery” of government plans to create sustainable communities which have little impact on the countryside, claims the Daily Mail .

The paper carries the story under the headline: “Million new homes that will devaste the countryside”.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England told the paper it was deeply concerned at the building programme.

“The Barker recommendations could be really devastating for large chunks of the English countryside,” a spokesman said.

The report estimates the cost of environmental damage by 2016 at between £5bn and £8.4bn.