Headlines: April 11th, 2007



Government plans to see more new homes being built would be more likely to be achieved if energy, water and sewerage systems were decentralised, according to a paper from the think-tank the Local Government Information Unit. It also calls for the investigation of smaller infrastructure systems.

The LGUI briefing document has been produced in response to an Environment Agency publication, “Hidden Infrastructure”, which highlighted how important environmental infrastructure was in supporting housing growth. The LGIU paper says resources such as water and waste “cannot and should not be taken for granted”.

It has been produced by policy analyst Gemma Roberts who says that if housing developments are to become thriving communities, they need a range of infrastructure available for use. The current focus, she says, tends to be too heavily on roads, public transport or schools. “There also needs to be consideration of the potential for smaller infrastructure, for example local water capture and recycling, rather than depending on conventional regional or national-scale infrastructure projects such as reservoirs or water transfer schemes that have additional environmental impacts,” she says.

Ms Roberts believes that by recognising that such additional environmental resources exist, there is what she describes as “an opportunity for more innovative solutions to housing needs”. She writes, too, that in developing the idea of decentralised energy and local sewerage systems, plans for new housing developments should perhaps begin with the aim of self-sufficiency. That, she adds, is not a challenge solely for new build developments but also for existing housing, which she believes is probably the next difficult question that will have to be answered.