Government stymies Cambridge environment standards

January 23, 2007 9:00 AM

Cambridge MP David Howarth is furious that the government has blocked a bill that would have allowed Cambridge to set high environmental standards in new housing developments.

Labour Minister Phil Woolas has talked out the Local Planning Authorities (Energy and Energy Efficiency) Bill, which was sponsored by Mr Howarth and by MPs on all sides of the Commons.

The Bill came about because a government inspector forced Cambridge City Council to water down strict requirements about energy efficiency and carbon emissions in the Council's draft Local Plan. The inspector's decision, which is final, allows developers to plead poverty as a reason for lower standards on combating climate change. The Bill would have allowed councils to set higher environmental standards than those required by national government.

Mr. Howarth commented:

"The Government pretends to take environmental issues seriously but ministers' actions speak louder than their words. The Bill would have given local government, including Cambridge City Council, more power to protect the environment. But the Government continues to stand in the way.

David Howarth MP

David Howarth MP

"Cambridge City Council is pushing back the boundaries of environmental sustainability in housing supported by public money, but Government regulations are holding back what the Council can demand in the private sector. We need to free local authorities to set the high standards. The Government's latest actions means that it has missed yet another opportunity to make a difference."

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