Monday, March 19, 2007

£20bn added to bill for 1.5m new homes in UK's South-East - BUT WHY!?


So the UK Govt say we "need" millions of new homes. At the same time we "need" to reduce greenhouse emissions. Building and construction work and construction waste is a large chunk of the pollution from urban areas. The London eco-footprint has this as the largest single contribution.

So a Thames Gateway mega-city plus an Olymic rape of the wetlands and meadows of Leytonstone adds up to a complete disregard for supposed CO2 emissions targets - they are unreachable. Instead let's promote the new build to be greener. But with UK rules on what is allowed to be regarded as "green enough" more or less dictated by the construction industry and it's cries of "foul!" and "where's our profit?" (in the current market this is laughable), "green" is barely in it.

Meanwhile, we slag off China for trying to help their very poor millions to get less poor (obviously, I object to the neo-liberal trickle-down theory being applied there, as that will finish off the planet for sure, but contraction and convergence doesn't mean we all become like the poorest), whilst allowing a new build that should simply be STOPPED to merely be a wee bit (and I man a wee bit) greener instead.

The South-East is also experiencing year on year growing drought, so more homes, less flood plains, less natural drainage, more trmac more concrete more cars more boorholes... is actually insane, isn't it? Why let us spread out? Instead, why not build taller? Why not subdivide large houses with few occupants? Why not compulsory purchase the fuckers like the government happily do to the poor when building a bypass? Radical action is neeed, but these guys pussy-foot around the issues, paying more attention to corportate lobbying than to constituent private individual voters.

- Tim
£20bn added to bill for 1.5m new homes

· Environmental crisis warning in south-east
· Call for better planning and new infrastructure
John Vidal, environment editor
Monday March 19, 2007
The Guardian

The hidden cost of the government's housing plans for south-east England was yesterday estimated to be at least £20bn. The sum, calculated by the Environment Agency in response to Labour's intention to build nearly 1.5m new homes in the region, includes new flood defences, sewage plants and waste tips for communities, but not providing water for developments in drought-prone areas.
The agency argues in a report that many areas earmarked for housing developments in the next 20 years are already near their growth limit and could be tipped into environmental crisis if new housing is not planned carefully. "Accelerated development in the south and east of England will stretch the capability of some infrastructure to cope," say the authors.

According to the agency, it will cost nearly £7.5bn to ensure dirty water from the planned new communities does not pollute rivers and coasts, £10bn to provide new waste plants and £3bn to protect the 100,000 or more new homes expected to be built on flood plains. The extra costs, most of which will be paid by central government or local authorities, have not been included in Treasury projections.
The real cost of connecting a house to essential services in the region is expected to be about £20,000, but this could be more than £50,000 in dry areas, or ones prone to flooding, the report says. The cost of building or enlarging reservoirs to supply water for the several million people expected to move to the south-east if the houses are built is not included in the report but water companies expect to have to invest at least £10bn-£15bn, taking the cost of new infrastructure needed to more than £30bn.

The government has set up four major growth areas and 29 "new growth points", mostly in the south-east. Many have poor existing infrastructure which will be unable to cope. The number of homes in Wales is expected to grow by 20% in 20 years.

The most serious brake on the housing programme could be lack of adequate water supplies in the south and east, says the agency, with 20% more water needed within 11 years.

Yesterday the agency blamed some water companies for not taking into account the planned growth in housing. "The cause of the water shortfall is that not all companies have taken into account the total government housing targets."

Equally serious, says the agency, is the problem of waste water generated by new populations. "There are seven places in the south-east where development will have to be limited because there is not enough sewage capacity, and 45 other places planned for development which will need to have facilities upgraded at great extra cost."

As towns grow, the agency expects rubbish to become nearly unmanageable if industry and households do not reduce their waste. "Our capacity to deal with waste is not keeping pace, and the problem is most severe in those areas set for major development. Current landfills provide as little as three years' capacity, and nine years at most," says the report.

Julie Foley, the agency's head of sustainable development, said: "There is no getting round the cost. The numbers are scary, but government needs to be much more aggressive about long-term planning."

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