Councils in the south west are set to benefit from a slice of nearly £2m to crack down on illegal developments on the nation’s Green Belt, Housing Minister Esther McVey MP has announced.

Local Authorities will be able to use the money to hire more enforcement officers, introduce the latest technology, and help meet the legal costs of bringing rogue developers to task for their illegal developments.

The Housing Minister has announced that 37 councils would be receiving a total of up to £50,000 each to help with the clampdown, which includes:

• Bath and North East Somerset

• South Gloucestershire

• North Somerset

• Dorset Council

The Housing Minister Rt Hon Esther McVey MP said: “Once the Green Belt is built on it’s often gone for good that’s why we are determined to protect it. The public in the south west have told us loud and clear they want it kept for future generations to enjoy.

“The funding announced today will help councils like South Gloucestershire clampdown on rogue developers, giving the areas with the highest levels of Green Belt the funds needed to punish those who build illegally.”

Reforms to the national planning rulebook last year maintained the strong protections on the Green Belt, which protect an area’s character and prevent urban sprawl. Only in exceptional circumstances can land in the Green Belt be built on.

Alongside the cash boost for councils, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is teaming up with the Royal Town Planning Institute to overhaul the national enforcement handbook.

The updated handbook will provide the latest best practice and expertise on shutting down illegal building and preventing it from happening, whilst ensuring developers obtain full planning permission before a shovel hits the ground.