Roadbuilding could undo eco-towns' carbon savings, Green candidate tells Observer

12 July 2009

In today's Observer newspaper (1) Rupert Read, Green Party candidate in the Norwich North by-election, warns that new roadbuilding associated with low-carbon housing developments could defeat their purpose by stimulating more traffic.

One of the proposed new eco-towns, at Rackheath in Norfolk, is just outside the Norwich North parliamentary constituency where a crucial by-election is to be fought on 23 July.

Controversially, alongside the Rackheath eco-town project is a plan to link it to Norwich airport by building a major new road, the £127m Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR).

Dr Rupert Read, the Greens' Norwich North by-election candidate and a city councillor in Norwich, said today:

"There are tremendous benefits to be gained by building houses to a high energy efficiency standard. It cuts fuel bills and it makes for warmer homes, as well as cutting CO2 emissions. But Rackheath's emissions savings would be undone by the building of the Northern Distributor Road.

"A recent study has shown that the NDR would be responsible for carbon emissions of almost 25,000 tonnes a year. That makes it the fourth worst road proposal in the entire country in terms of expected annual CO2 emissions. And that's only for the first year after opening, well before the traffic which the new road stimulates will have reached its peak (2).

"Labour government just doesn't get it" 

Rupert Read added: "Rackheath is a prime example of how this Labour government just doesn't get it. It proposes low-carbon housing, then it undoes the benefit by more roadbuilding, which all experience shows helps generate traffic and increases CO2 emissions. This new road will help increase traffic in northern Norwich.

"If I'm elected as MP for Norwich North, I'll make a point of trying to help fight off this ridiculous attempt to create more traffic and more pollution in the city. And I'll argue in the House of Commons for genuine eco-housing, where we build sustainable communities well served by public transport and with the best possible facilities for safe cycling and walking."


1. "Eco-towns to get go-ahead despite local opposition," Gaby Hinsliff, Observer 12.7.09,
2. The official estimate is 24,631 tonnes per year. See:, cited by the Norwich No N25 Campaign:

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