Opposition to the Government’s eco-towns project has surged with protesters signing up at the rate of 2,000 a day to call on the Prime Minister to halt plans for 10 new towns across England.
Campaigners from all over the country are working together to oppose against the plans, which have been criticised by environmental groups, planning authorities and local residents.
There have now been 60,000 protesters who have given their signatures to oppose the towns, dubbed “Gordon’s ghettoes”, in one of the biggest grassroots protests for years.
Critics argue that they are ill-conceived, environmentally unfriendly and would destroy some of England’s most beautiful areas.
Nine local protest groups are uniting to present a united front to collect fighting funds and lobby the Government. Among their long-term plans is a march on London in the Autumn.
Earlier this week the Local Government Association convened a meeting for 46 local councils affected by the plans. The LGA has called the proposals the “eco-slums of the future”.
Protesters have been desperately collecting names to oppose the plans. So far 35,000 people have have signed paper petitions.
Another 9,000 have signed online forms, while another 15,000-petition is being put together in Oxfordshire.
In Ford, Sussex, a petition objecting to plans for 5,000 homes on 87 per cent green field land has reached 6,500 signatures.
Ben Fogle and Duncan Goodhew, the Olympic Gold Medalist, have become the latest well-known faces to lend their support to the campaign.
Dame Judi Dench, John Nettles and former Formula One ace Johnny Herbert are among the 6,500 people objecting to plans for 6,000 eco-homes at Middle Quinton next to Stratford-upon-Avon.
Tim Henman’s father Anthony is leading the charge in Oxfordshire, where there is massive opposition to plans for up to 15,000 new houses at Weston Otmoor.
Mr Henman said: “We expect between 10,000 and 15,000 signatures. This development will affect around 75,000 people in this area and we have not had a single negative comment against what we are trying to do.”
The number of e-petitions on the Downing Street website has swollen from six to nine in recent weeks. Over 7,200 people have registered their objection with the Prime Minister, a rise of 23 per cent in the last week.
In Pennbury, Leicestershire, 11,000 signatures have been collected. While in Rossington, South Yorkshire, a local newspaper surveyed residents.
Ninety per cent were against the eco-town and parish councillors are organising a poll.
In Essex, campaigners say that almost the entire population of villages of Elsenham and Henham (around 3,000 people) are against building another 5,000 homes.
One thousand protest letters are expected.
The Government has short-listed 15 sites, which will be whittled down to 10 eco-towns with green features such as recycling technology and an environmentally friendly transport system.
Campaigners, however, claim that they will result in greater car use, take away green-belt land and ignore planning restrictions.
The Daily Telegraph has also learned that the planned housing density for the eco-towns is in some places the equivalent to an inner-city.
The plans for an eco-town at Long Marston, in Warwickshire have only set aside 60 hectares to accomodate more than 6,000 hourses – around 75 properties per hectare.
The usual density for development is 35 houses per hectare.
A report from urban design consultany FPCR, which was commissioned by the protesters, said: “This density level would be completely inappropriate for a rural site such as this, which immediately abuts the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”
By Tom Peterkin and Christopher Hope
30 May 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding