ODPM’s community plans ‘unsustainable’ says CIWEM

Leading environmental professionals' body CIWEM is calling on the government to rethink plans for housing expansion in the South-East, saying the ODPM's flagship Sustainable Communities initiative is unsustainable.

CIWEM’s criticism focuses particularly on the scarce water resources in the South-East and the pressure that new housing development will bring, but also calls for an environmental audit from the predicted growth, taking climate change into account.

“Nearly every new building that goes up places further stress on scarce, undervalued water resources, since the vast majority do not include water efficiency measures,” said Nick Reeves, CIWEM’s Executive Director.

“Plans for thousands of houses are already moving into the building phase, but the government has yet even to publish its much-vaunted Sustainable Buildings Code, let alone make water efficiency measures mandatory.”

Specifically, CIWEM is calling for:

  • a public audit of the ODPM’s Sustainable Communities Plan to determine best and worst case environmental scenarios from predicted growth, taking climate change into account;

  • adoption of sustainable planning principles and practices in the development of the Sustainable Communities programme;

  • recognition that water is a scarce resource in some parts of the country, with environmental as well as social demands upon it, and that water availability considerations must be factored into the planning process by making water and wastewater service providers statutory consultees;

  • a package of statutory measures and financial instruments that will encourage water efficiency, including water reuse, in new build and grants to encourage similar measures in existing buildings.

    The calls are being made ahead of CIWEM’s national conference – “Sustainable Communities: Form, Function and the Environment – which will look in more detail at the issues involved.

    David Hopkins

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