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November 2008

First community hydro power scheme up and flowing
New Mills, in the High Peak area of Derbyshire is an Industrial Revolution textile town. At one time there were 16 mills along the fast-flowing river Goyt, borrowing the massive power of the water to turn the mill wheels. But the last textile manufacturer closed in 2000; the gritstone mills are derelict and the Victorian weirs that... more 
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Green amendments win praise from environmentalists
Amendments to the governments Energy and Climate Change Bills have been welcomed by the environmental and green building lobbies. Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change secretary has bowed to pressure and agreed to include emissions from shipping and aviation in the climate change bill. He has also agreed to a feed-in tariff for small scale... more
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Midlands house has hydrogen fuel cell
A hydrogen fuel cell system is powering a house in Lye in the West Midlands. Black Country Housing Group (BCHG), in partnership with the University of Birmingham, have installed the experimental hydrogen fuel cell system which is powering the homes electricity, water and central heating. The fuel cell unit is housed in a shed in the back garden of one... more
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Waste plasterboard initiative launched
Proposals to help industry recycle more of the one million tonnes of waste plasterboard that is generated every year in the UK have been unveiled by the Waste Protocols Project - a joint Environment Agency and WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) initiative. The draft Quality Protocol for gypsum from waste plasterboard sets out new end... more  back to top



Eco town PPS leaves a question unanswered

A draft Planning Policy Statement for the development of eco towns to be accompanied by a consultation process has been launched by government this week. The PPS says it aims 'to support the delivery of additional housing in new settlements, to contribute to the Government’s ambition for 3m additional houses in England by 2020; and to deliver highly sustainable developments, which are zero carbon and will act as exemplars for development more widely'

It sets out what makes a new settlement an eco town and the planning process necessary for them to be delivered efficiently and effectively. The PPS sets out a range of minimum standards, which will be used to define an eco town. The standards are consistent with Government’s wider planning policies, but set more challenging and stretching standards than would normally be required for a development.

David Pitcher, Commercial Director at ECSC (the Energy Centre for Sustainable Communities) studied the draft PPS and made the following comments. "The fundamental question is how developers will be able to meet the high standards set out for eco-towns in the current economic climate, while their resources and funding continue to dwindle."

"The new PPS says that planning applications have to demonstrate how an eco-town will achieve zero-carbon status. This creates more front-loading on the costs and means that in order to meet the planning system requirements developers have to lay out more money upfront than the existing system already demands – even before they even know if they have planning permission. In effect they will be paying their consultants, architects, energy advisers and so on, from the very beginning, whilst the project is at risk."

"The amount of detail developers will be required to show in the PPS will delay eco-towns before they've even got off the starting block - and it is this detail that will probably end up being changed as the project design process gets underway."

"Added to this is the fact that some planning authorities already feel like eco-towns are an additional burden that they do not have the resources to cope with, so developers will have a more difficult starting point than usual when they are trying to get their planning applications through."

"If developers are to meet eco-towns' stringent standards they will really need to start thinking outside the box and consider how varying components such as energy, water and waste can be packaged up or outsourced in order to minimise costs and keep down the number of different specialists that need to be hired and the amount of different technology that needs to be installed. For example, an energy from waste plant could be one way of tackling both energy and waste issues at the same time."

"If the consultation period results in one good thing it will be that the requirements on developers become more flexible and less prescriptive. If an eco-town doesn't have exactly 40% of the area as green space, but can provide more options for green travel or affordable housing, surely they should still be allowed to proceed with their development?"

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TCPA urges all to respond to eco town consultation
The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) has welcomed the sustainability benchmarks set out in the new policy consultation on eco towns, but says the Government should begin planning to implement eco standards in existing towns and cities as well. Organisations representing a wide range of people - from those unable to get on the housing ladder... more  back to top

Feed in tariff proposals weak, say coalition
A coalition of trade bodies, unions and charities is calling for Government plans to introduce a feed in tariff into its Energy Bill to be significantly strengthened so that households, businesses, communities and local authorities are given real financial incentives to install small scale green energy systems such as solar panels, wind generators ... more   back to top

Experimental green build findings published A green building project which involved a massive 140,000 hours of monitoring at three sites in Cambridgeshire has spawned a new report from BRE. The document sets out the results from a pioneering housing demonstration project that was carried out in the Fenland district of Cambridgeshire. The SmartLIFE Housing Demonstration Project was conducted... more  back to top

Housing scheme includes new wetland habitat
A unique inner city wildlife habitat which is being established right at the heart of New Islington, Manchester’s Millennium Community, has been named as one of the top biodiverse landscaping schemes in the country, in the first ever awards in the UK to focus on the best “green” social housing projects. Cotton Field is a five acre waterpark... more  back to top 

Committee says build fewer greener houses A new report from the Environmental Audit Committee suggests that the flagging property market could provide the perfect opportunity to change government house building policy towards higher quality more sustainable and greener developments. The EAC say construction firms hoping to profit from the government's large scale house building plans... more  back to top



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