Michael Fabricant has written to ministers at the Department of Communities and Local Government following reports in a Sunday newspaper. "Plans for the so-called new eco-town show that the 5000 home town is not even ‘eco’" says Michael Fabricant. "The Government’s unpopular plans to ride roughshod over local planners who share my concern over the lack of infrastructure to support such a large development used the excuse of ecology to justify their actions. Now we find out that the proposed development at Curborough isn’t even that!"
The proposal has been submitted by the Curborough Consortium which has been planning a new town on the site since 1990, but previous proposals have been rejected. An examination of the Curborough plans show that they fail to match the standards set in the Government’s eco-town prospectus. The prospectus states that eco-towns should:
* Be built to level six, the top level, of the Code for Sustainable Homes, a measure of how eco-friendly new homes are – but Curborough’s homes would be built to level three
* Incorporate town-scale generation of renewable energy so all the buildings can reach "zero carbon’ standards – but Curborough’s energy experts recommend only using solar panels on individual houses
* Incorporate high standards of water efficiency – but Curborough’s plans show it will use 30 per cent more water than recommended
* Be planned in a way which supports low-carbon living and, in particular, minimises carbon emissions from transport – but studies have shown that traffic on some nearby roads would increase by 70 per cent
* Demonstrate excellence in one particular aspect of environmental sustainability – but Curborough’s plans do not mention this
* Integrate green space and features to enhance biodiversity – but developers want to build on land where there is historic woodland as well as species nearby protected under European law.
Marina Pacheco, head of planning at the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: "This application shows how shallow the development community’s commitment is to eco-towns, where they will go for a lower standard if they can get away with it.’ And Chris Green, of Friends of the Earth West Midlands, claimed the developers were forcing through proposals previously turned down by local planning committees.