04 June 2004
The massive increase in house-building recommended by government advisers could have a devastating impact on the environment, says a little-publicised report.
The report, commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, warns that the extra 145,000 homes per year recommended in a Treasury review by Kate Barker will lead to significantly higher carbon dioxide emissions and domestic waste.
The study by consultancy Entec was published in April, one month after Barker's housing review, but only came to light this week – hidden away on a Defra website.
It concludes that carbon dioxide emissions could rise by 20% and domestic waste by 25%. By 2015, the total cost of extra waste could be as high as £1.2bn.
The report, Study into the environmental impacts of increasing the supply of housing in the UK, recommends that government departments should look at new measures, including water pricing, to reduce environmental damage.
If house-building goes ahead at the rate proposed by Barker, 148,000 hectares of land will be swallowed up by housing.
The report calls for a review of green belt policies: 'Development plans should seek to ensure that wherever possible rural towns function as integrated service and employment centres and not simply fulfil a 'dormitory' function for residents working elsewhere,' it says.
A Defra spokesman apologised for the fact that the report was 'tucked away on a less-than-penetrable website' but denied there had been any attempt to hide its existence.