Monday 12 March 2007

Would this eco-towns policy proposal work in Ireland?

In the UK, new 'eco-towns' built on brownfield land could lead the way in cutting carbon emissions and building affordable homes, UK Housing Minister Yvette Cooper said.

The UK government announced it would consider plans for eco-towns put forward by local authorities as part of the new Growth Points scheme.

Forty-five councils have already come forward with plans for new homes and jobs to respond to serious housing pressures in their areas and some authorities are also looking at plans for 'new settlements'. UK Ministers will now consider these plans within the Growth Points scheme, insisting on proposals for zero or low-carbon developments which make the best use of brownfield land.

New eco-towns, of between 5,000-10,000 homes, would have strong public transport links to nearby towns and cities. They would make the best use of brownfield land and could be built on public sector surplus land - such as former Ministry of Defence (MoD) or NHS sites.

Ministers believe these new developments could help drive the environmental technologies needed to ensure thatall new homes are zero-carbon within a decade - as set out in last December's zero-carbon timetable.

Yvette Cooper has announced £2 million funding to develop plans for the eco-towns. She also announced the appointment of Professor David Lock, Chair of the Town and Country Planning Association, to report to Government on further developing the criteria for eco-towns.

She said - "We desperately need more homes - and we desperately need to cut carbon emissions to tackle climate change. New eco-towns could build low-carbon design into the fabric of the community - not just into individual houses.

"We have already made substantial progress, with the new timetable for zero-carbon development and proposals for places like Northstowe. But we need to go further - now is the time for us to look at new eco-towns, put forward by local councils.

"They could use public transport and new green designs to deliver low-cost and low-carbon homes for the future - making good use of brownfield land."

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