Sunday, 21 October 2007

Examination In Public In The SE reaches the wrong conclusion

I’ve been looking at the outcome of the Examination in Public that has been deliberating at evidence for what to do on the south East for the next few years. Its extremely wordy, over 400 pages, and the language is technical. I gave evidence last year that there wasn’t sufficient water supplies to keep pace with the projected levels of growth. They also examined transport, climate change and other issues. They ignored all this evidence and have increased their projected house building for Reading from 521 a year to 572. The last few years we have been building at 796 a year, but as more of Reading is developed it becomes harder to find more places to build on. So bad news for the green spaces and back gardens, good news for property developers and builders. The strain on the infrastructure will get worse, traffic most noticeably.

To read this in the original language see the paragraph below.

‘Whereas the draft Plan provision is for 521 dpa and Reading BC says it is committed to delivering 572 dpa until 2016 the Council feels that achieving the 7,000 houses implied in the NGP announcement would require a very high rate of development. GOSE assumes that the 7,000 figure means an additional 1,790 dwellings above the draft plan by 2016 (ie 7,000-5210)15. This implies 179 dpa above the draft Plan, equivalent to an average rate of 700 dpa over 10 years.
The Council points out that while over the years 2001-06 Reading actually delivered 796 dpa that was exceptional and that during 2003-06 92% of the residential development was in the form of flats. The Council considers that since it will be heavily dependent on windfall sites after 2016 and does not have the luxury of safety valve in terms of greenfield sites, an uplift in its housing provision to 572 dpa’

You can download and read the whole thing at

My Submission on Water from last year, responding to their questions

1E.1 Given that EA modelling shows that much of the region will be in deficit by 2025, what is the evidence that a twin track approach of demand management and investment will meet the water supply needs of the region (Policy NRM1)?
As the south East is developing faster than the infrastructure can cope with, the current drought is just one symptom, policy NRM1 doesn’t address the cause. Our growth levels are unsustainable, and can’t continue. Government should rebalance our regional economies to spread development out across the regions, instead we are seeing the South East overheating, while areas of the North are stagnating. Also climate change is happening now and we can expect more extremes of weather, so the problems will get worse.

1E.2 In terms of water efficiency, what else needs to be done at regional level to ensure that demand for water can be controlled and provided for? Is something more practical required in terms of monitoring and implementation?
All new developments need to be built to the highest ecohomes standards, not just that in the inadequate Code for Sustainable Buildings. Ecohomes such as Bedzed (1), Hockerton (2) and the Brighton Earthship (3) should be our models and guides. Most of our current housing was built over 60 years ago, but it can be upgraded. The yellow house (4) is a good example of what can be done. There are ways to reduce water use. Firstly car parking areas should not be a sealed surface but made permeable, to increase groundwater recharge and reduce flooding. See SUDS, sustainable urban drainage systems (5). Drinking water doesn’t need to be flushed down the toilet, rainwater can be harvested for that, as well as being used on the garden. All toilets should have a low flush option, as is common in other countries. Low water use shower heads and taps are available from specialist outlets like the green building store (6), should replace all fittings. Water from showers and sinks can be diverted to gardens, no need to overload the sewage system. See the Centre for Alternative Technology (7) for more information. In homes with water meters people are more aware of their use of water, so all home should have them. Also as corporations are exempt from the hosepipe ban, they have little interest in reducing demand. But if they had an incentive, a lot could be done, for example, car wash water could be cleaned, and recycled and reused. Golf clubs could build a lake and pump their own water onto the green in the summer, no need to use potable water for this or many other business uses.

I hope these ideas will lead to further research, I have provided some links below.

1E.3 How far is the partnership approach adequate as a mechanism for clarifying and meeting future supply requirements (Policy NRM2)?
I agree with FoE. The partnership approach is helpful in sharing information and enabling policy to be formulated. However the remit of the Water Companies to make money for shareholders and to seek least cost solutions for the most part, appears to severely limit the extent to which such an approach can go.

1E.4 Have the cumulative effects of growth and the implications of providing additional water and waste treatment capacity been taken fully into account, including on river water quality (Policies NRM1 - 2)? If not, how should the policies be strengthened?
See my answer to 1E1 above.

1E.5 Has sufficient account been taken of flood risk assessment in setting the development framework for the region (Policy NRM3)?
Development is still happening in flood plain areas, increasing the risk of flooding to other areas, and reducing groundwater recharge. This must stop.

Further information is available from lists green construction professionals and offers training courses Association of Environmental Conscious Builders,
Eco Houses – examples of best practice
(1) BedZED
(2) Hockerton Housing Project
(3) Brighton Earthship
(4) Yellow House
(5) SUDS
Centre for Alternative Technology

Greenbooks, The Whole House Book: Pat Borer, Cindy Harris£35 1998,
Ecohouse: a Design Guide Sue Roaf £24.99
The New Autonomous House: Design and Planning for Sustainability Brenda Vale, Robert Vale £20
The Real Green Building Book £2.50 from AECB.
The Green Building Handbook Tom Woolley, Volumes 1 and 2: £50.00
Sustainable Housing Schemes in the UK Hockerton Housing Project.

Adrian Windisch MSc. B. Eng (hons), South East Confederation of Green Parties

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