Eco-town is less than green

I REFER to your article New town is thrust back into spotlight (December 2). There are several points to which I wish to respond, mostly concerning the misleading information given by the promoters and supporters of Northstowe. This town, whether eco or

I REFER to your article "New town is thrust back into spotlight" (December 2). There are several points to which I wish to respond, mostly concerning the misleading information given by the promoters and supporters of Northstowe.

This town, whether eco or not, is depicted as being built on the site of Oakington Airfield, ie a brownfield site. This is to persuade the general public to accept the scheme.

Gordon Brown announced on May 13, 2007, just prior to taking over as Prime Minister, that he was going to create five new environmentally-friendly towns, built on brownfield sites, the first of which would be Northstowe at "the abandoned Oakington Barracks in Cambridgeshire". He claimed that: "Each of the new homes will be built to zero-rated carbon standards and all their energy supplies will be generated locally from sustainable resources, such as solar and wind power. All the five towns will have new road and rail links." That is what Gordon Brown wanted everyone to believe.

In reality, the area of Oakington Barracks and Airfield is roughly a third of the total land-take for Northstowe, and represents genuine brownfield status. Much of the rest of the MOD land is open fields and not brownfield, but the majority of the Northstowe development is greenfield, taking in agricultural pasture land, farms and a golf course.

However, the planning authorities and the Government have defined 'brownfield' not as derelict industrial land but as any land that is in second use, such as woodland into agriculture, common land into parks, farmland into golf courses. So on that definition almost all land is 'brownfield'.

English Partnerships (now re-quangoed as the Home and Communities Agency, HCA) and Gallagher state that: "Northstowe is expected to aim towards a target of 20 per cent of predicted energy needs from renewable energy." Gordon Brown's claim that "all their energy supplies will be generated locally from sustainable resources" is, as usual from Government sources, a gross exaggeration.

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Northstowe will have no new rail link, since the existing, but disused, rail route was rejected by the Public Inquiry Inspector, in favour of a guided busway, which will use the old rail route for 15 km of the total 25 km. The other 10 km will be on a non-guided route, ie the buses will operate on already-congested roads in Huntingdon, St Ives and Cambridge. The only new road links at Northstowe will be access roads to enable the residents of up to 10,000 new houses to join the A14 at Bar Hill and Dry Drayton. That should really make the new town eco-friendly.

Let's hope common sense will prevail and that thousands of home-dwellers will not be condemned to live in the flood plains of Longstanton and Oakington.

ALAN FITZGERALD

Laxton Grange

Bluntisham

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