LONDON, Feb. 9 (UPI) — The British government is spending $90 million to build four carbon-neutral towns in England.
The so-called eco-towns were chosen from a list of 12 finalists. They are St. Austell in Cornwall, near the western tip of England, Whitehill-Bordon in Hampshire near London, North West Bicester in Oxfordshire in the southeast and Rackheath in Norfolk, near England’s East coast.
The money will be used to construct new low-energy houses, a third of them affordable, while also making existing buildings more efficient. Transport, education and administration will also become greener, British officials say. The four cities are expected to house up to 30,000 people within five years.
Several government departments will fund the project, which is intended to pave the way for urban city planning to become more sustainable as Britain aims to reduce its overall carbon dioxide footprint.
Britain’s Housing Secretary John Healy said the eco-towns will set a “global standard for green living while helping tackle climate change and the shortage of affordable homes.”
“People will be able to experience green living for themselves and see how it can change their lives and save money,” Healy was quoted as saying by the Environmental Data Interactive Exchange. “By 2016 there will be 10,000 new eco-homes in these four pioneering areas.”
The latest energy efficiency technology, such as smart metering and waste reduction devices, will be used in the green buildings, and public spaces will be outfitted with parking spaces for bikes and charging devices for electric cars,
Whitehill-Bordon has filed plans to build up to 5,500 homes on a site owned by the British Defense Ministry. It also wants to install a large biomass facility to supply the local community with renewable energy. The city hopes to create some 7,000 jobs in the process.
Officials in St. Austell have chosen land used by defunct industries to house about 5,000 green homes.
In North West Bicester officials have plans to build 5,000 homes and outfit the local school’s roof with solar panels as well as a heat pumping system and green public transport.
The fourth city, Rackheath, plans to construct 6,000 green homes that according to the BBC will incorporate “rainwater recycling, low flush toilets, high insulation levels and environmentally friendly roofs.”
Officials promise that the eco-city projects, which have been met with opposition in some of the towns selected, will benefit the local economies.
“Local workers, including apprentices, will help build these pioneering homes and other projects,” Healy said. “This will arm them with the new skills in green construction, giving them a head start on their career path.”
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