Car-dependent suburbs may be the slums of the future

A report released in the journal Australian Planner warns that our nation’s current transport and urban policies need a radical overhaul, with the prospect of increasing reliance on oil resulting in a spiralling trade deficit.

One of the authors of the report, Peter Newman of Curtin University, said that: “Urban sprawl is finished. If we continue to roll out new land releases and suburbs that are car-dependent, they will become the slums of the future.”

Professor Newman, who serves on the board of the federal agency Infrastructure Australia, has already begun briefing the Council of Australian Governments on the need to test all future urban development against the potential for an oil shortage. He said every state should duplicate a Queensland law that requires local councils to conduct an ”oil dependence study” when approving new developments.

The study’s co-ordinator, Dr Jago Dodson of Griffith University, forecast a grim future, with Australia’s trade deficit, which was $9.3 billion in 2008-09, due to hit $25 billion by 2015, largely because of oil imports. He said that Australia’s urban planning should now turn its attention to mitigating oil vulnerability and adapting Australian cities to an oil-constrained world.

TreeHugger has also picked up on this story, and added a significant amount of research and analysis, as well as a number of referenced articles, exploring the topic.  Amongst these is analysis from The Oil Drum, looking at why Peak Oil has profound implications for urban planning in Australia, including consumption habits, petroleum availability, oil production, transport consumption as a percentage of oil usage, and the use of petroleum in urban transport.

The Oil Drum analysis ranges from the hard fiscal number crunching to the softer issues that will impact broader society over the medium to longer term. We would recommend that our urban planners and environmentalists alike read more!

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