Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Green Rural Idyll - Urban Realiity

Listening to the Today programme this morning I heard about a competition for designing a sustainable community. What worried me was that the main strand was for a rural image. Now the majority of the UK population lives in towns and cities.

I live in a former industrial part of the Black Country - and where I live is relatively green (thanks Google Maps). I can walk to shops and train stations, and overall it should be possible to live a low impact life style here. What we need are schemes to make it easier - or cheaper - to live these life styles. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Encourage small markets in urban areas - with greengrocers and the like - and not overpriced 'farmers markets'.
  • Relax planning consents to allow people to add things like passive solar heating - I'd love to add a two floor glazed porch to my house.
  • Relaunch something like the 'Dig for Britain' campaign - say with reduced council tax if you have a productive vegetable patch.
  • Encourage car sharing schemes and cycling - the best way is to get rid of the Tax Disc and make fuel more expensive.
  • Relax the Clean Air Act to allow people to burn wood - and encourage coppicing in Urban Green space.
  • Sort out the behaviour on busses - this probably only requires a little bit more enforcement.
  • Convert larger redundant buildings into small business centres - with lots of smaller units to start-ups and shared workspeces, so people can walk to work.
Spending time discussing how we can build new, green villages on green field sites will only offer a small scale solution in even the medium term - we need to change our towns and cities, and do it now.

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