Construction industry leaders have hit out at the government’s decision to scrap Allowable Solutions and its zero-carbon buildings policy.
The decision is outlined in chancellor George Osborne’s productivity plan, Fixing the foundations: creating a more prosperous nation, published today (10 July).
According to the AJ’s sister title Construction News, the government justifies the decision on the basis that it could help ensure planning decisions are made more quickly.
The document reads: ‘[The Government] does not intend to proceed with the zero-carbon Allowable Solutions carbon-offsetting scheme, or the proposed 2016 increase in onsite energy efficiency standards.’
Industry leaders have been quick to condemn the move, with UK Green Building Council chief executive Julie Hirigoyen calling it the ‘death knell’ for the policy.
She said: ‘Let us be in no doubt this announcement is the death knell for zero-carbon homes.
‘It is short-sighted, unnecessary, retrograde and damaging to the housebuilding industry which has invested heavily in delivering energy-efficient homes.
‘Britain needs more housing but there is no justification for building homes with a permanent legacy of high energy bills.’
Rob Lambe, managing director of Willmott Dixon Energy Services, whose housing arm turned over £279million in 2014, said: “Since the original zero-carbon announcement, Willmott Dixon has been supportive of setting a long-term trajectory, enabling industry to invest with confidence.
“This announcement seriously undermines industry confidence in government policy and will diminish future investment.”
British Property Federation chief executive Melanie Leech agreed and added the government now needed to clarify its stance on non-domestic buildings.
She said: ‘Today’s abandonment of the Allowable Solutions mechanism is short-sighted with respect to both the government’s long-term carbon budgets and the European Union’s obligations for nearly-zero energy buildings from 2020.
‘Keeping the onsite energy efficiency regulations ‘under review’, with no discernible end in sight, undermines the regulatory certainty that industry requires.’
CIBSE technical director Hywel Davies said the move was not a ‘huge surprise’, but argued that the industry now had clarity over the direction of government policy.
He added: ‘The next key target for Part L is nearly zero-energy buildings, and we have to be ready to build them for the public sector by 1 January 2019.
“All we have to do is work out how.”