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Putting the natural environment at the centre of sustainable development
Eco-towns must be genuinely sustainable and the standards that are being proposed for them should be part of all urban development said Natural England today.
Natural England's comments came in response to the publication, by the Department of Communities and Local Government, of the shortlist of potential eco-town locations and the Planning Policy Statement setting outline standards of sustainability that eco-towns need to reach.
Helen Phillips, Natural England’s Chief Executive, said: “Eco-towns and the policies associated with them cannot be treated as isolated showcases of urban planning – the challenge of greening urban development is a truly national one that cannot be addressed piecemeal. The environmental standards proposed for eco-towns are demanding and rightly so, but similar standards should be set for all new development to ensure that they provide the quantity and quality of green infrastructure that communities and the environment need”.
While providing government with advice on the potential impacts that proposed eco-towns may have on protected sites and habitats, Natural England has highlighted the need for greater levels of public investment to stimulate the greening of England’s cities and has called on local and central government to set new priorities for funding high quality “green infrastructure”. Urban green spaces have a major role to play in helping tackle climate change, reducing flood risk, protecting wildlife, and addressing the growing public health problems associated with obesity and Natural England believes that urgent investment is now needed to prioritise their development.
Helen Phillips continued, “Green spaces have often been sidelined in urban development in the past and we live with the legacy this has created. The 40% green space minimum being set for eco-towns alongside the new standards being set for biodiversity and landscape are therefore very welcome. If done right, the eco-town initiative provides an opportunity to demonstrate the crucial role of green infrastructure in providing sustainable urban environments that can make a real difference to people’s health and the quality of their urban environment. The challenge now is to ensure that where eco-town developments are taken forward the reality on the ground fully lives up to the promise and that the standards identified for eco-towns serve to stimulate the urgent improvement of urban development elsewhere.’’
Notes to Editors:
Natural England Natural England works for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas. We conserve and enhance the natural environment for its intrinsic value, the wellbeing and enjoyment of people, and the economic prosperity it brings.
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