Headlines: February 9th, 2010

Four areas are to share new funding to build more that 600 homes to the toughest ever environmental standards. The Government says the money will be a big boost for the local councils driving forward innovative blueprints for the main eco-towns before seeking public approval and planning permission.

The go-ahead was given last year for the first wave of eco-town sites in Whitehill-Bordon in Hampshire, St Austell in Cornwall, Rackheath in Norfolk and North West Bicester in Oxfordshire. These four areas will share 60 million pounds and the funding will also be used for environmental education projects and boosting the energy efficiency of existing schools.

The Housing Minister, John Healey, said the new ‘eco-show homes’ would introduce nearly 2,000 people to green living and save them hundreds of pounds on bills. Nearly a third of the homes will be designed to be affordable. He said the construction work also had the potential to create up to 2,000 local jobs, including apprenticeships, and would help to advance green building skills.

The new homes will feature the latest environmentally-friendly technology such as smart meters to track energy use, electric car charging points, systems for saving water and recycling or composting waste and they will be insulated and built to the toughest ever standards. Mr. Healey said that by 2016 there would be 10,000 new eco homes in the four pioneering areas but added: “Green living isn’t just about homes. That’s why this cash will also help transform local schools and create new transport links and energy sources. By the time the eco-towns are finished green living will already be a way of life for these communities.”