The planned development of 800,000 new homes in the South East could set off an ‘environmental time-bomb’ according to an Environment Agency report released yesterday.

Planned new development in the region should have the environment at its cornerstone, warned the Environment Agency. Threats to environment, such as increased demand for water and energy and more sewage, will be exacerbated by the development.

The report suggested that by focussing on the early stages of development planning, the effects of increased population could be minimised. This could be achieved through various means including avoiding development on flood plains and planning plenty green spaces to absorb carbon dioxide.

Howard Davidson, Environment Agency Regional Director, said: ‘We have a real opportunity to make sure that the environment is considered at an early stage of any planned development. This is the only way that the environment impact of the building of 800,000 homes can be managed. Now is the time to do something to safeguard our future.’