87 per cent of eco-town site is greenfield land
Local campaign group Communities Against Ford Eco-Town (CAFE) has called on the Government to admit that the proposed eco-town at Ford would be built almost entirely on greenfield land.
In its ‘Eco Town Bid' of August 2007, the Ford Airfield Vision Group said: "Ford Airfield is a 360 hectare site comprising brownfield land."
The original proposals of Ford Enterprise Hub conveyed the same message. They stated that: "Ford is a very large, previously developed site which should come forward in plans for housing before greenfield sites".
However, figures in the Government's own consultation paper, entitled ‘Eco-towns: Living a Greener Future', confirm that only 44 hectares of the 350 hectare site is brownfield land - less than 13 per cent of the total.
The same document, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), says that eco-towns should be sited "where appropriate, making good use of brownfield ... land".
Despite this, the eco-town proposals for Ford were shortlisted by Housing Minister Caroline Flint on 3 April, along with another 14 sites around the country.
CAFE has also slammed the way in which figures have been presented in the Government's consultation document, in which DCLG say: "The 350 hectares site includes 110 acres of brownfield ..."
Campaigners believe that the Government's use of two different measures is designed to give the impression that one-third of the site consists of brownfield land.
CAFE Co-Chairman and Yapton resident Terry Knott said: "The Government's proposal to site a so-called eco-town at Ford is deeply flawed. It is not ecological. Building up to 20,000 houses and concreting over a large area of prime, grade one arable land, when food shortages stare us in the face, defies all logic."
Climping resident and CAFE campaigner Geoff Dixon commented: "This eco-town would cover the whole area between the three villages of Climping, Yapton and Ford in houses and offices. So far as we can see, just about all of it is on the farmers' fields - it doesn't seem very green to us to cover the lot in concrete!"
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert commented: "The ‘eco-town' is an ‘eco-con'. There is nothing remotely ‘eco' about building thousands of houses on greenfield land."
"Nick Gibb and I have written to the Minister to ask why the consultation paper contains information that is misleading and to ask the Government to confirm that if there was an eco-town at Ford it would be built almost entirely on a greenfield site."
Bognor Regis & Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb added: "Ministers need to come clean and be honest with the public about this development. It's quite clear that the majority of the housing will be on greenfield land not industrial land - there's nothing ‘eco' about that."
Notes for Editors
1. Communities Against Ford Eco-Town (CAFE) is a campaign group set up by members of the local community, including residents of Ford, Yapton, Climping and Arundel, backed by local MPs Nick Herbert and Nick Gibb.
2. The consultation paper issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), entitled ‘Eco-towns: Living a Greener Future', can be viewed at http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/pdf/livinggreenerfuture.pdf
3. The DCLG consultation ends on 30 June 2008.
4. For further details of the Ford eco-town proposal, visit www.arun.gov.uk/ecotown