Socialist Worker

New eco-towns will help wreck planet

Issue No. 2089

The government is set to announce the development of ten new “eco-towns”, which it says will help fight the danger of climate chaos.

But far from helping save the planet, the plans threaten further damage while handing over even more power to large corporations.

The ten towns are supposed to provide affordable housing and be built to “green” standards.

But according to the Wildlife Trust, many of the proposed sites are important wildlife areas, while others are on land designated as green belt or agricultural land.

One application proposes building an eco-town with 5,700 homes in the centre of the National Forest in Derbyshire.

Seven million trees have been planted in the forest since 1990 – many of these are now threatened.

Building new towns will also have a wider impact, for instance in increasing traffic and congestion, as people will have to commute by car to work.

Showing little regard for the environment is just one of the drawbacks of eco-town’s.

Some proposed sites, like that in Willow Green, north Yorkshire, are to be built on flood plains.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the plan is the lack of consultation with people living in or around the sites.

The government cited “commercial confidentiality” as a reason not to disclose details of the proposals earlier.

Since then a worrying list of private companies that are involved in the plans has emerged.

Arms company Qinetiq has proposed an eco-town in Warwickshire. Others will be owned by companies like Eagle Star Estates – which stands to make up to £1 billion from its proposal for 12,500 homes at Micheldever Station in Hampshire.

Eagle Star already owns the land and has been trying to build on it for almost two decades, but has been refused permission every time.

Many environmental campaigners see the eco‑town proposals as trying to push development through the back door.

The project director in Micheldever Station has reassured taxpayers that they will not have to pay for the town.

“We own the land, and the cost of providing five new schools, new facilities, new roads will be met entirely by us,” he said.

So, the proposed town would be built, owned and controlled entirely by a private company.

In embracing eco-towns the government has rejected truly sustainable and eco‑friendly measures in housing.


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News
Tue 19 Feb 2008, 18:45 GMT
Issue No. 2089
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