British to help China build ‘eco-cities’

London, November 6:

British engineers will this week sign a multi-billion contract with the Chinese authorities to design and build a string of ‘eco-cities’ — self-sustaining urban centres the size of a large western capital — in the booming country.

Arup, the London-based consulting firm that has already signed up for one such project near Shanghai, will announce it has clinched a deal to extend the concept into a string of cities around China.

The eco-cities are regarded both as a prototype for urban living in over-populated and polluted environments and as a magnet for investment funds into the rapidly growing Chinese economy.

A signing ceremony is expected to take place at the British prime minister’s official residence in Downing Street, London, this week during the state visit of the president of the People’s Republic, Hu Jintao. The Shanghai Industrial Investment Company (SIIC) will sign on behalf of the Chinese.

Peter Head, the Arup director in charge of the first eco-city, at Dongtan near Shanghai, said, “We are going to help establish a model of how a sustainable city works, but it must also be a viable financial proposition in the long term to attract international investment.”

The Dongtan development, on an island in the mouth of the Yangtze river near Shanghai,

aims to build a city three-quarters the size of Manhattan by 2040.