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Cuts: Funds withdrawn for eco-schools

The government has axed funding for the UK’s first zero-carbon school projects

Last week the Department for Education clawed back all £2.4 million it had pledged towards building four zero-carbon schools on eco-town sites across the UK.

Atkins’ £4.4 million Cooper School Sixth Form scheme at North-West Bicester eco-town in Oxfordshire (pictured) has lost £600,000, while an eco-education centre at Rackheath eco-town in Norfolk is understood to be similarly out of pocket.

Robin Nicholson, senior director at Edward Cullinan Architects, who chaired the government’s Zero Carbon Task Force, said: ‘[This decision] worries me because zero-carbon schools are such a clearly good thing to do.’

The government last week cut funding for the first-wave eco-towns (North-West Bicester, Rackheath, Whitehill-Bordon in Hampshire and St Austell in Cornwall) by 50 per cent.

Back in February, the previous government gave the four eco-towns a funding boost of £60 million to be spread over two years.

Last week Eco-Bos, which is promoting the St Austell eco-town, appointed six architects including Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios to design a 70-home pilot scheme on the site.

Matt Williams, project architect at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, said: ‘A reduction in funding will have a detrimental effect on the quality of the scheme, and could reduce it to a low-quality housing estate.’

An announcement on the official definition of ‘zero-carbon’ is expected to be released later this month, following the government’s decision to uphold a commitment to make all new housing zero-carbon by 2016.

But a report due out tomorrow (16 July) from the Zero Carbon Hub, the body charged with delivering new zero-carbon homes, will claim that the government’s eco-assessment system for new dwellings is failing to meet the challenges of delivery.

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