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Transport in the eco-towns: Government must think again

24 April 2009
As the consultation deadline nears on the framework for the Government’s controversial eco-towns [1], the proposal has come under further criticism from Campaign for Better Transport and a group of other leading environmental NGOs. Far from being a plan for eco-towns, as it stands the Government’s draft planning policy statement (PPS) will merely encourage car-dependent development.

In their response to the draft planning policy statement, the Campaign for Better Transport and others call for several changes:


  • The proposal that the eco-towns be ‘separate and distinct’ from larger built areas should be abandoned. New developments need to be adjacent, if not actually within, existing urban centres
  • Eco-towns must be connected to adjacent urban areas by rail and not just by bus, which is currently allowed under the draft PPS; otherwise, people will continue to use their cars
  •  The PPS should set clear targets for reducing carbon emissions from transport [2]. It should also reduce the target for the maximum proportion of car journeys made by car from the eco-towns from the ‘unchallenging’ 50% proposed to 40% [3]
  • The principles of car-free development are missing from the draft PPS. Car-free areas should cover a substantial portion of each eco-town. Parking provision should be restricted and street design should be such that it is more convenient to walk or cycle than to travel by car  

“The Government needs to rethink its eco-town ideas at least as far as transport is concerned. Otherwise the eco-towns will simply be high-powered engines of traffic growth in the middle of the countryside and the eco-town label will be a poor joke,” said Richard Bourn, campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport.


Notes to editors

[1] The consultation on the draft planning policy statement closes on 30 April. We responded to the consultation.

[2] In the draft PPS the proposed zero-carbon standard excludes emissions from transport.

[3] A target of a maximum of 40% of journeys by car would be easily achievable; many places in continental Europe already achieve much a lower share and in London over 60% of trips are made by non-car means.