Government consults on green standards for eco-towns

The latest round of consultation on the government's controversial eco-town plans see the floating of proposals for the highest green standards yet.

The draft Eco-towns Planning Policy Statement (PPS) sets out standards including an obligation for zero carbon status for all buildings and for green spaces amounting to 40% of the towns’ total area.

The launch of the consultation also coincides with the publication of environmental impact assessments for each of the 12 shortlisted sites, which look also consider the likely effects on the local economy and alternatives if the towns were not built.

Housing Minister Margaret Beckett said: “The threat of climate change is a challenge we must tackle at every level and housing is no exception. Developing a greener approach to our housing need is crucial and eco-towns are a vital part of this programme.

“As well as providing additional homes they represent an opportunity to trial the kind of green technology that I hope will become commonplace in all new development.

“The Government must be at the forefront of the green agenda and that is why today’s proposed standards mean eco-towns face the UK’s toughest ever green standards for new development.

“I believe it is vital we get the locations for these eco-towns right, and the shortlist has been refined to reflect the results of the most detailed assessment to date on these potential locations.

“But I do not expect all of these locations to go forward – the eco-town standards are tough and I think some of these shortlisted schemes could struggle to meet them.

“Everyone has the opportunity to have their say on these proposals, both now and in the future when planning applications are received.”

The second round of consultation on eco-towns now runs until 19 February 2009. As part of this consultation a new website has been launched at to both explain the eco-towns concept and standards, and to invite comments and ideas.

Over the next month Communities and Local Government will also be running roadshow events in local areas close to the proposed eco-town locations to encourage awareness and responses to the consultation.

The Environment Agency has backed the higher environmental standards proposed in the draft planning guidance.

The Agency’s chief executive, Dr Paul Leinster, said: “We welcome the high environmental standards contained in the Government’s draft planning policy for eco-towns. It sets out clear standards for reducing flood risk, encouraging water efficiency and minimising waste.

“I believe the planning statement should be a benchmark for all other forms of housing development to help create sustainable communities.”

Environmental measures included in the draft include:

  • Prohibiting development in high flood risk areas
  • Meeting high water efficiency standards
  • Achieving water neutrality in water stressed areas
  • Ambitious targets for waste minimization
  • Dr Leinster added: “We have worked closely with our partners in developing these standards and will continue to comment to ensure that eco towns meet the required environmental and sustainable standards.

    “Significant challenges still remain and we expect these to be addressed in the planning and design of the eco towns and their associated infrastructure.”

    Sam Bond

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