Friday, April 04, 2008

Simon Jenkins rules, "eco-towns" are an ecological catastrophe

What an awesome article! I think its time to write to Alison again.

"Britain has plenty of potential eco-towns. They are called London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle, to name a few. They conform to every one of Flint's declared objectives. They have an infrastructure of utilities, schools, clinics, libraries, welfare services and public transport already built. People have shown themselves ready to live, work and play in them without using cars. They are settled communities able to absorb immigration and high-density living, without tearing the bonds of local leadership.

If Flint wants to see land available for development in these eco-towns, she need only get in a helicopter and fly over them. They have the lowest residential densities in Europe, the most road-space and, incidentally, the greatest problem in generating communal cohesion. They can and do handle more people each year, even if it does mean more flats and fewer gardens."

"Any fool can build in what remains of the countryside and call it eco-something. It will not save life on Earth, but merely drive ever more people into hypermobility.

The way to preserve the green of the countryside and maximise the carbon-efficiency of human habitation is to make today's cities work better. They are full of useable land. They have suffered enough insults from politicians for the past century. Cities are the new green."

"[Caroline] Flint wants between 30% and 40% of houses in her eco-towns to be for the poor. Her boss, Hazel Blears, wants "half the households" not to be allowed cars, presumably also the poor. She does not say who will live in these ghettos. The idea that they can be made both privately financed and "affordable", whatever that means nowadays, for locally employed families is laughable. A 6,000-house eco-town cannot begin to sustain a full range of services, nor would any developer touch an estate where nobody can have a car.

To be poor without a car in a British new town is hell. That is why the last census showed only 14% of residents in Bracknell and 19% in Milton Keynes as car-less, against a national average of 27%. People have to get out of these planners' dream towns. Anyway, it is only big cities that do without cars: 37% of Londoners and 48% of Mancunians. Wild horses would not get Flint or Blears to live in their new towns, yet like city builders down the ages, they inflict them on the poor."

1 comment:

  1. Scooped! I was about to make some pretty similar points on my own site, but this is far put.

    But you seem to have forgotten to link to the original article, which is here.

    Oh, the moral dilemma! The only party that realises we need new nuclear powerstations is the same party that wants to build so-called 'eco-towns'.


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