Thursday, April 3, 2008

The UK - to have an eco-town makeover?

Today the UK government has revealed 15 locations which have been shortlisted as the first new towns in England in since the 1960s. 10 sites will be selected from this list to be built as new "eco-towns" by 2020 and will contribute to the government's plans to build 3 million new homes by the same year.
The eco-towns initiative has been designed to tackle the dual challenges of climate change and the need for more UK families to own their own home. However, they have come under fire on both these areas.

The UK government's sustainability agenda for eco-towns
Eco-towns are planned to be low-energy, carbon-neutral and built from recycled materials. Each development will be exemplary in one area of sustainability, such as energy production or waste disposal.
The argument against the sustainability agenda
The opposition has accused the government of "eco-spin rather than a genuine attempt to address the environmental nature of UK housing".
The UK government's house-building agenda for eco-towns
The UK is currently experiencing a housing shortage, especially in the affordable housing market. The largest eco-town will provide between 15,000 and 20,000 new homes and 30% to 40% of each eco-town will be allocated as affordable housing.
The argument against the house-building agenda
The opposition argue that because three-quarters of the housing we'll be living in by 2050 is already built, that unless you do something about the existing stock, putting up a few eco-towns amounts to a tiny fraction of the total housing we will require. There are also several shortlisted new towns that will require building on green field sites.
The opposition have also stressed the need to ensure inhabitants of new eco-towns do not have to commute in order to work. As if this happened, the sites would not be sustainable at all and would in fact give rise to extra carbon emissions in transportation. There are concerns among environmental campaigners that most of the proposed eco-towns will increase car pollution because they will not be big or diverse enough to sustain viable public transport.
For more information go to the UK Communities and Local Government Department website.
Map source: BBC News

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