Labour criticises government over building regs delays
MPs have argued that the delays to new Part L regulations show a lack of commitment to achieving 2016 zero carbon targets
In an open letter to communities secretary Eric Pickles, shadow chancellor Ed Balls, shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint and shadow housing minister Jack Dromey argue that failure to clarify standards which builders should adhere to in 2013 through Part L is ‘highly detrimental’ for delivering new homes and puts key green policy at ‘serious risk’.
Opposition MPs are concerned that the lack of clarity on Part L could slow innovation in the construction sector. They also state that the delay is ‘detrimental for delivering urgently needed new homes’.
The UK-GBC has also responded to the letter, saying the government needs to provide ‘clarity’ on building regulation changes in order to ‘inject confidence’ into the constuction sector.
A spokesperson from the department for communities and local government said: ‘We want to see greener homes, but we need to avoid excessive regulation which will simply reduce house building and push up the cost of buying a new home. One only has to look to Wales, where experts warn it will be £13,000 more expensive to build a new home than it is in England.’
Full text of the letter:
Friday 15 February
Dear Secretary of State
In 2006, the Labour Government introduced a ground-breaking policy for all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016, with wide support from both business groups and NGOs. Meeting both environmental and economic objectives, the policy unleashed a wave of innovation in the construction sector and supply chain, putting UK companies in a position to exploit the opportunities from exporting innovative new products, skills and expertise abroad.
We write to express our serious concern at the seemingly endless delay to clarifying the standards which builders should adhere to in 2013 through Part L, and the uncertainty over the price of carbon through so-called Allowable Solutions in 2016. The ongoing delay is both highly detrimental for delivering urgently needed new homes, and puts at serious risk what has been a totemic green policy – further dispelling the myth that this is ‘the greenest Government ever’.
The cornerstone of the policy was an agreed trajectory to 2016, with uplifts to Building Regulations in 2010 and 2013, with the final step in 2016 including Allowable Solutions, which would enable builders to achieve the zero carbon standard by investing in offsite forms of carbon mitigation. We strongly urge you to set out what the uplift will be in 2013, and ensure it is sufficient to enable a smooth transition to the full zero carbon standard in 2016, together with the necessary details on Allowable Solutions. Back-sliding on the 2013 uplift, or indeed the Allowable Solutions policy, will effectively render the 2016 target meaningless and represent a complete failure of leadership by this Government.
We understand that as recently as January, a broad coalition of construction and property groups publicly restated their support for the zero carbon policy through an open letter to the Chancellor. We also understand that the Zero Carbon Hub, a public-private body previously funded by CLG, has done much of the ground-work needed to prepare the industry for these changes, yet the delay goes on.
Ed Balls MP, Caroline Flint MP and Jack Dromey MP