Eco-town Challenge Panel is critical of many schemes' efforts to reduce carbon emissions, and gives them a month to improve

Developers bidding to build the government’s 10 proposed eco-towns need to work harder to prove how they are going to reduce the carbon footprint of future residents, according to the author of a government-commissioned report.

John Walker, chair of the “challenge panel” set up by government to try to improve the environmental quality of the bids said all of the planned developments needed to do more to earn the right to be an eco-town.

Walker said: “A lot of them are by normal standards very good schemes, but it’s also fair to say a lot of them have got a lot of work to do.

“Transport is one area where in common the developments need to work harder. Another is just to focus on generally how they are going to reduce their carbon footprint. What’s it actually going to be like for people who live there.”

Walker’s comments come as the Challenge Panel launched its preliminary report on the 15 bids based on interviews with each of the developers. The report does not rank the quality of each of the proposals, but is quite critical of a number of them.

Caroline Flint

For example it finds that the proposal in Curborough, near Lichfield by Banks Developments “is not yet an eco-town” and it “lacks innovative transport solutions.” It describes the New Marston development in Bedfordshire by Gallagher Estates as “looking like a typical commercial scheme.”

The developers now have a month to improve their schemes before facing the panel again in July and reporting their progress.

Housing Minister Caroline Flint said: "I have been clear from the start that only those bids that reach the highest possible standards for sustainability can make it through. The Eco-town Challenge panel have played an important role in both providing advice and encouragement to developers on what they have done well, but also challenging them to up their game where there is room for improvement. I'd like to thank the Panel for all their hard work.