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Harriett Baldwin welcomes Conservative policy announcement on "eco-towns".


14th February 2008

Harriett Baldwin today welcomed the announcement by the shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government about eco-towns.

Following last year's Housing Green Paper, the government has invited bids from developers for ten new "eco-towns". Each eco-town would contain between 5,000 and 20,000 homes and be "exemplar green developments".

However, many commercial companies across the country are attemting to use the eco-town badge to dust off and push through controversial and unsustainable new developments. In Worcestershire, Qinetiq have put in a proposal for an eco-town on the disused airfield at Throckmorton. The Government is shortly to publish its list of preferred bids for consultation.

Conservatives have developed a series of "tests" for any proposed eco-town should meet to win approval.

1.Local support. There should be broad-based support for any new development particularly from the elected council. Eco-towns should not be imposed by Whitehall or regional quangos. Communities should be actively involved in the design stages. There should be a clear benefit to the local community from the development.

2.Supporting infrastructure. Even if the town is eco-friendly, there must be sufficient transport capacity, schools, hospitals and water supplies to meet the increased demand.

3.Eco-towns should not be built on Green Belt or in areas designated at AONB or SSSI. They should avoid areas of flood risk, unless proper flood prevention measures are put in place.

4.Eco-towns should champion new green technologies and sustainable building materials.

5.Eco-towns should be real communities, not "sink estates". They should have a mixture of tenure and ownership, with sufficient provision for family homes with gardens.

Harriett Baldwin, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for West Worcestershire, said, "The tests outlined today by Eric Pickles and Grant Shapps are very sensible and should ensure that only the right sorts of eco-towns are built in Britain. We should hear shortly whether Throckmorton has made the top ten list. I don't like the way the whole process so far has been so shrouded in secrecy. It's very worrying for people in Peter Luff's constituency as well as in Pershore."



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