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Government prepares for battle on eco-towns

by David Masters
June 9, 2008

Pressure is mounting on the government to step down on its eco-town proposals, with protests in locations across the country this weekend.

On Saturday around 2,000 locals from Ford in West Sussex attended a protest against an eco-town in the area.

Television presenter Ben Fogle joined the protesters, who marched three miles through countryside around the proposed eco-town site.

Meanwhile, another demonstration in Lichfield, Staffordshire, attracted hundreds of local protesters.

Campaigners argue that the proposed eco-town will end up creating an ‘urban sprawl’, joining Lichfield to nearby towns and villages and creating a strain on local services.

They also believe that it will not be eco-friendly, as it is likely to cause traffic congestion.

Housing Minister Caroline Flint expressed her surprised at the protests, saying that local people have been consulted at every step of the planning process.

She added that the government will ‘listen to concerns’ and that local people will continue to be ‘fully consulted’.

However, the Under Secretary of State for Housing, Baroness Andrews, said that the government may have to back down on its eco-town proposals.

Andrews is reported to have said that as few as five eco-towns could end up being built, half of the number originally planned.

The announcement led to Conservatives to accuse the government of ‘dithering’ and ‘backtracking’.

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