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Campaigner raises “serious questions” about eco-towns

by David Masters
March 3, 2008

Countryside campaigners at the Ecobuild exhibition in London have accused the Government of failing to consult the public on their flagship eco-towns policy.

Speaking at the exhibition, Neil Sinden, the policy director of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said that whilst his organisation recognises the need for more housing in England, they don’t agree that eco-towns are the right answer.

Sinden raised questions about the need for 10 new free-standing eco-towns, which the government plans to distribute equally across different regions of the UK. He went on to argue that the government’s priority should be regeneration of brownfield sites based on local needs.

During the live debate Sinden said: “There are some serious questions to be asked about eco-towns.”

Nick Raynsford, Labour MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, responded by backing the government’s policy, but agreed that a number of problems still need to be resolved.

“I believe the policy is the right policy. It’s got an important contribution to make towards meeting our country’s housing needs in a sustainable way,” said Raynsford.

“But it’s got to be planned well and implemented well if we are to make the most of the opportunity.”

The debate was followed by an audience vote, in which half agreed with the government’s eco-towns policy, whilst the other half opposed it.

Before the debate, eco-designer Wayne Hemmingway said that sustainable housing is not just about installing solar panels.

Hemmingway said: “Sustainability is about life. It’s about people being happy. Let’s not just tick boxes and think if we do, we have created a sustainable future for us all.”

“We should put no sustainable elements on houses whatsoever but ensure that we build something will last 200 years and we build a community there and it will become sustainable.”

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