4.4 Ecotowns

One UK Government idea which could be seen as an adaptation, at least within the scope of proposed numbers of new-build houses, is the planning of ‘ecotowns’. These new settlements of 5000 to 15,000 low-carbon homes would be designed using strict environmental criteria with the whole town being carbon neutral; that is, a town's energy use must be less than or equal to the amount put back into the national grid through renewables. There has been considerable local opposition to suggested sites, including claims that the new settlements will put more pressure on existing infrastructure and that they will destroy areas of countryside. Although there are no ecotowns yet, there are a small number of low-carbon developments in the UK, such as London's BedZED.

Another route to aid adaptation is through the 2007 Sustainable Communities Act, which set up a new process of governance where councils are able to drive central government action to promote and protect local communities. Councils choosing to put forward proposals under the act can do so covering many areas relevant to climate change adaptation; for example, by planning for greater use of renewables or requesting the power and resources to refurbish existing housing to reduce emissions(e.g. by retrofitting insulation).

Activity 13

Read the short guide to the Sustainable Communities Act. Think of three ways your council could use the act to adapt to climate change. Then visit Local Works to see whether your council has committed to using the act.

4.3 Sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS)

4.5 The role of the UK government's budget