Despite their green sounding name, eco-towns have nothing to do with the environment. It is an exercise in greenwash, a scam to build on green field sites, to push a coach and horses though the planning system and local accountability. Nor is it about providing extra homes.
This is an exercise to benefit property developers like St Modwen, a company with no green credentials, or track record of sustainable development.
St Modwen specialises in trashing town centres. Farnborough town centre has been destroyed, social housing destroyed. For what, a large superstore, with land once occupied by social housing earmarked for a car park for the superstore.
Tenants evicted from their homes at Firgrove Court are still waiting compensation and one tenant is now facing eviction for a second time.
Many developers like St Modwen, are now facing bankruptcy, which is why the government is so keen to bail them out with the lifeline of eco-towns.
It is far more cost effective, both in monetary terms and environmental terms, to renovate existing housing stock and bring it up to a decent standard.
The government seems determined to push ahead with ten eco-towns. Shelter is being paid one hundred thousand pounds to promote these ten eco-towns. That is ten thousand pounds to leaflet each locality with leaflets promoting eco-towns. In very tiny small print on the back of their leaflet, Shelter acknowledge the source of their funding.
Interviewed this lunchtime on BBC Radio 4 consumer programme You and Yours, the head of Shelter was very much on the defensive.
This is not what Shelter should be doing, acting as the PR arm of government and property developers. They should be lobbying for this investment to be put into our towns and cities to bring existing housing stock up to standard.
In acting in this way, Shelter has lost all credibility. They have lost my support.
Keith Parkins, Transition towns, Indymedia UK, 9 October 2008
Keith Parkins, Sustainable living, to be published