Elsenham escapes Government shortlist but eco threat is still at large
THE spectre of an eco-town still hangs over the residents of Elsenham despite the area not being named as one of the Government s first wave of successful sites. Housing minister John Healey announced on Thursday the four locations that would enter into
THE spectre of an eco-town still hangs over the residents of Elsenham despite the area not being named as one of the Government's first wave of "successful" sites.
Housing minister John Healey announced on Thursday the four locations that would enter into a "planning phase" for the controversial eco-town developments.
Although Elsenham was not on the list it has still been earmarked as one of the six potential second-wave sites.
Chairman of the Save Our Village Campaign, Nick Baker, said he was "pleased" that Elsenham had not made the shortlist of four.
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"After reading the government's assessment of the site, we are confident that they recognise there are a number of key issues that are insurmountable," said Mr Baker.
"Issues such as water, transport and waste - which we identified and campaigned on - make Elsenham extremely unsuitable for an eco-town."
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Mr Healey confirmed that �5 million would be made available for local authorities, such as Uttlesford District Council (UDC), to continuing developing eco-town proposals.
A UDC spokesman said that the authority was expected to apply for a share of the money. He said: "Additional resources would be useful to the council in completing key parts of its plan making, as it needs to compare eco-town proposals against alternative approaches to development, but councillors will need assurances before deciding whether or not to accept any offer."
Chairman of the Environment Committee, Cllr Susan Barker, said: "A smaller new settlement at Elsenham, not an imposed eco-town but one built to rigorous environmentally friendly standards, remains the council's preferred option.
"The Government would need to acknowledge this in any offer of financial support for study work, providing us with written confirmation that accepting support would not mean our hands were tied, so to speak."
The four sites across the country that have been put through to a planning phase are Whitehill-Bordon in Hampshire, St Austell in Cornwall, Rackheath in Norfolk and North West Bicester in Oxfordshire.
Saffron Walden MP Sir Alan Haselhurst said he was extremely satisfied that Elsenham had not made the short list, but recognised it was a "job only half done".
"This outcome has been brought about by a combination of skilful local campaigning and strong political lobbying at all levels," said Sir Alan.
"It is a good example of what sustained resistance can achieve even in the face of what seemed determined government policy.