Homes plan faces green opposition

The Countryside Agency and English Nature are poised to throw a spanner in the works of deputy prime minister John Prescott’s Sustainable Communities Plan to build millions of affordable homes across the country.

The two agencies, soon to merge, are partners in the scheme and are advising the government on the east of England part of the plan. They have now raised concerns about its effects on the environment.

Each region will be responsible for producing its own action plan to make the communities a reality.

As advisers to the government on landscape and biodiversity issues, it is the role of the two agencies to ensure development in the East is sustainable and that the commitment to environmental sustainability is enshrined in the Regional Spatial Strategy.

In a joint statement, the agencies state: “We recognise the need for housing, jobs, services and the infrastructure to support them in order to contribute to the quality of people’s lives in the east of England. Equally the protection and enhancement of a high quality natural environment is also a key component of quality of life.”

The plan could see nearly half a million homes built in the east of England.

The agencies are concerned about the lack of consistency between sub-regional strategies and, more fundamentally, the lack of emphasis on environmental matters within the sub-regional and sub-area chapters of the plan.