Liberal Democrats oppose Government eco-towns policy

September 12, 2008 3:16 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference today re-affirmed the party's opposition to the Government's misguided eco-towns policy.

A motion passed by Conference included:

Opposition to the development of the Government's free-standing eco-towns Support for new housing to allow more people to get a foot on the housing ladder Opposition to the development of new settlements in the green belt A belief that planned and approved developments should be more environmentally and socially sustainable

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Housing spokesperson, Lembit Öpik said:

"Instead of ensuring all our towns and cities are sustainable, the Government is using the green facade of eco-towns to bypass the planning system and ignore local needs and concerns.

"By presenting these developments as eco-friendly when they are only required to meet moderate environmental standards, ministers are misleading the public in order to force through these often unwanted towns."

The motion passed at Conference states:

1. Supports the case for new housing to help meet the needs of developing communities and to enable those for whom house purchase is out of reach to find houses to rent or secure a stake in.

2. Believes that such housing should where possible be on brownfield land, and closely linked to existing settlements.

3. Opposes the development of new settlements in the green belt.

4. Also opposes the development of free-standing eco-towns.

5. Affirms that new developments should be subject to the local and democratically accountable planning system, not imposed by central government.

6. Asserts that the focus should be on making already planned and approved developments more environmentally and socially sustainable, rather than on superimposing new settlements in rural areas.

7. Believes that new housing in all settlements should be built:

a) Using locally available materials with low embedded energy.

b) To high standards of insulation and with the most energy-efficient appliances.

c) With full regard to the impact of additional house-building on flood plains and on other housing.

d) With consideration to the impact of water demand, and incorporating low water use options and water recycling to the fullest extent possible.

8. Calls for a master planning process as adopted in some other European countries, with prior agreement of developers, communities and local authorities on sustainability objectives and their application in all stages of the development in ways which respect the needs and aspirations of new and emerging communities, who should be fully involved in the decision making process.

9. Further calls for all new developments to be dependent to a much higher level on locally generated and renewable sources of both heat and electricity, with the necessary infrastructure (including district heating) provided for at design stage.