Indecent proposal? Redford rails against eco-village

The Hollywood legend is feted as an 'environmental superhero' but he's acting like a Napa Valley nimby

He is one of Hollywood's original environmentalists, who was promoting the virtues of renewable energy and eco-friendly design long before it was fashionable. But Robert Redford takes a dim view of sustainable development in his own leafy backyard.

The Oscar-winning actor, whose decades of pioneering green activism saw him elevated to Time magazine's list of "environmental superheros," has prompted talk of pots and kettles by joining a crusade to prevent the development of a new "eco village" in northern California's picturesque Napa Valley.

Redford, 72, has joined Save Rural Angwin, a pressure group dedicated to opposing the development of several hundred "green" family dwellings, together with a retirement home, on 63 rolling acres near a secluded wine-country estate he bought eight years ago.

The 275 proposed low-energy homes could scarcely be more environmentally sensitive. They will get energy from solar panels, use recycled water, and support an organic farming co-operative. Residents will be automatically enrolled in an electric car-sharing scheme

Redford's lobby group is concerned that the development, near the village of Angwin, will destroy several fields. Its environmental benefits will be cancelled out by increases in traffic in the area, they argue.

"I believe that the citizens of Napa Valley care about preserving our beautiful agricultural and rural heritage," Redford said in a statement. "That is why I am happy to join Save Rural Angwin in its efforts to preserve this naturally carved land-basin from development."

To some, Redford's complaint hits a sharp nail on the head: many activists believe that projects like Angwin eco-village represent little more than a cynical attempt by canny developers to use "green-washing" to get permission to build homes that would never otherwise be allowed.

To others, however, the campaign he has joined is at least partly misguided: thousands of new homes must be built in California over the coming years so, while all development represents a blot on the landscape, "green" projects may eventually represent the best option for the environment.

Either way, his decision to oppose the eco-village may feel a little rum to residents of rural Utah, where, in 1969, Redford bought 6,000 acres of mountainside and proceeded to turn it into the world-famous Sundance ski resort.

Redford also invited talk of pots and kettles last month by writing an article for the Huffington Post website arguing against the nimby-ism that often stands in the way of environmentally friendly building projects. "We can't begin the new energy future by only saying where we can't build renewable energy projects," he argued then. "We also have to agree on where we can."

Meanwhile the developers of Angwin's proposed eco-village, which involves a partnership between a firm called Triad and the cash-strapped local college, responded to Redford's comments. "I don't want to use the hypocrisy word here," Curt Johansen, the executive vice president of Triad, told the New York Times. "[But] I don't think he'd be in opposition to this if he knew the whole story."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee