As conservation groups came to blows with the coalition last week over the controversial National Planning Policy Framework, communities secretary Eric Pickles called upon his PR team to help allay fears of uncontrolled urban sprawl.

They revealed the document would protect something that “has long been part of the fabric of our towns and villages”: bowling greens. Pickles said: “The new powers can help to preserve this part of England’s sporting and cultural heritage for years to come.”

Surely this will be enough to persuade conservationists to drop their campaign.