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Environmental fears over south east housing proposal

Decades of unsustainable development have caused huge environmental concerns over a proposed new housing initiative in the south east.

Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s 17th South East Regional Conference in Brighton, Environment Agency chairman Sir John Harman said that the environment needs to be at the centre of any future plans in the region.

With a large-scale housing development proposed for the area, Harman is concerned that adequate facilities will not exist to deal with the growing amounts of waste the region produces.

He said: “Development is not always bad for the environment, as long as it is in the right place, well designed and built and supported by the right infrastructure. Without planning for water supply and sewerage, waste disposal and flood risk management, communities simply cannot function.

“Current infrastructure in the south east of England is struggling to cope with the existing level of demand, and careful planning is needed to accommodate the proposed number of new houses.”

Harman highlighted the current pressures on the environment, including the generation of 4.5 million tonnes of municipal waste a year, of which, less than a quarter is recycled and most is sent to landfill.

With ageing infrastructure also meaning that 12 million tonnes of untreated sewage is discharged into the river Thames each year, new houses need to sit alongside adequate waste disposal facilities.

Harman added: “Timing is crucial. The right infrastructure has to be put in place at the right time, and whatever the final number of new houses to be built, it is clear that development, if not delivered sustainably, will inevitably impact on the environment, the quality of life and the region’s economy.”

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