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Brown commits to zero-carbon homes in pre-Budget report

Chancellor Gordon Brown has said all new homes in the UK will be zero carbon rated within 10 years.

Speaking in his pre-Budget statement, the Chancellor said the target was designed to tackle domestic housing, which is responsible for 30 per cent of all carbon emissions.

He said: 'Within 10 years all new homes will be zero carbon - we are the first country ever to make this commitment.'

Brown added that zero-carbon homes would be exempt from stamp duty.

He also announced that planning decisions on major infrastructure projects are to be made by an independent planning body.

The Chancellor said the Government will set out proposals in a White Paper in spring 2007, backing Kate Barker's recommendations for improving the speed, responsiveness and efficiency of planning.

Among other developments, capital spending on education will rise to £10.2 billion a year by 2010.

Brown said: 'It is right to reach a spending settlement on education through to 2011, to ensure that all 21,000 schools are fit for the 21st-century challenge.

'In 1997 there was just £1.5 billion spent on education - by 2011 this will rise to £10.2 billion, a cumulative total of £36 billion spent over the next four years.

'This means 12,000 new or completely refurbished schools, 100 colleges rebuilt and 3,500 new children's centres across the country.'

Brown, effectively prime minister in waiting, also ruled out the introduction of the planning gain supplement (PGS) before 2009, in documents released at the same time as the statement.

The PGS - a windfall tax on the rise in land value enjoyed by landowners when they gain planning permission - was first mooted by Barker in her first report on housing supply in 2004.

The Treasury documents said: 'Given the need to allow markets sufficient time to adjust to the new regime, the Government now proposes that a workable and effective PGS would not be introduced earlier than 2009.

'PGS would be levied at a modest rate across the UK to generate additional revenue for investment in infrastructure at the local and regional levels, while preserving incentives for development to come forward.'

The document adds: 'The Government now proposes that at least 70 per cent of PGS revenues would be hypothecated for local infrastructure priorities and would be returned to the local authority area in which they were generated.'

by Ed Dorrell

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