Think tank criticises eco-town proposals

A report by independent think tank ‘Reform’ has criticised the Government’s policy of building ‘eco-towns’.

 

On 3 April, Housing Minister Caroline Flint announced the 15 sites around the country that have been shortlisted for an eco-town, including Ford in West Sussex.

The report, produced by Professor Nick Bosanquet and Elizabeth Truss, "strongly recommends" that the Government provide full costings and examine alternatives to the eco-towns proposal.

Reform also says that there are "serious issues to be addressed", including the following:

  • The current plans focus on 0.4 per cent of the housing stock, rather than the 99 per cent of houses that are already built.

  • The true carbon neutrality of eco-towns, given that many proposed locations are a considerable distance from work and amenities.

  • The opportunity cost of further building in the countryside, for both the natural environment and agriculture.

  • Specific development problems at the proposed sites, many of which are former military installations, deliberately sited in remote and unsociable locations.

  • Lack of evidence on the total cost of these settlements, including infrastructure.

On the specific proposals for an eco-town at Ford, which could see at least 5,000 houses built on a greenfield site, the report remarks on the fact that road access would be through the A27 bottlenecks of Arundel and Chichester.  The report also states that much-needed investment will be diverted away from Bognor Regis.

Deputy Director of Reform Elizabeth Truss commented: "Eco-towns are a ‘green elephant'.  They are likely to create more carbon emissions with the additional transport and infrastructure they will require."

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert commented: "I welcome the intervention of Reform on this important issue of Government policy.  Their report reinforces many of the arguments that we in West Sussex recognise. The policy on eco-towns is badly flawed."

Mr Herbert added: "I will continue to fight the proposal for an eco-town at Ford and provide strong backing for the community campaign."

Reform is an independent, non-party think tank, co-founded in 2002 by Nick Herbert before he became a Member of Parliament.  It aims to set out a better way to deliver public services and economic prosperity by liberalising the public sector, breaking monopoly and extending choice.  It has a cross-party Advisory Board which includes Labour MP Frank Field and Liberal Democrat MP Jeremy Browne.

Ends

 

Notes for Editors

1. For the report published by Reform, visit http://www.reform.co.uk/Research/Economy/EconomyArticles/tabid/81/smid/378/ArticleID/607/reftab/70/Default.aspx

2. For the website of Communities Against Ford Eco-Town (CAFE), visit http://www.nofordecotown.com/

3. Members of the public wishing to take part in the consultation can write to: Eco-towns Team, Housing and Growth Programmes, Communities and Local Government, 2/H9 Eland House, Bressenden Place, London, SW1E 5DU (e-mail: ecotowns@communities.gsi.gov.uk)

4. The DCLG public consultation ends on 30 June 2008.

5. For further details of the Ford eco-town proposal, visit www.arun.gov.uk/ecotown

Joe CoombesPlanning