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Small sites exempt from zero carbon standards

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The government’s plans to ‘water down’ its commitment to making all homes zero carbon by 2016 have been given the go-ahead

Small housing developments of fewer than 10 homes have been made exempt from incoming zero carbon requirements in a move which sees the government back-pedal on its promise that all new housing should meet stringent energy efficiency standards.

The rules will also see developers able to offset a scheme’s carbon emissions through ‘allowable solutions’, effectively letting a developer buying its way out of adopting zero carbon standards.

The exemption, which was first mooted in the Queen’s speech in June 2014, was confirmed in a statement by communities secretary Eric Pickles.

It could see around 20 per cent of all new housing developments exempt from the standards which are set to come into force in 2016.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles, said: ‘We have decided there will be an exemption for small housing sites of 10 units or fewer, which are most commonly developed by small scale home builders and can be more expensive to develop irrespective of the size of the builder, from the allowable solutions element of the zero carbon homes target.

‘This means that all new homes will be required to meet the strengthened on-site energy performance standard but those building on small sites will not be required to support any further off-site carbon abatement measures.’

But the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has vocally campaigned against the move.

Last year it said the move was ‘deeply worrying’ and risked ‘snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by letting small developments – a large chunk of the housebuilding market - off the hook’.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • It was totally obvious that Government would have to dilute this promise sooner or later, since it was unachievable.
    With the election approaching we are now getting into a huge tidal wave of pointless promises by all manner of worthless politicians, who's credibility (if measured by their assumption of public naivety) has to be brought into question.
    How awful it is that people who pretend to have the capability to run our country well can indulge in such complete clap-trap and expect to be taken seriously. Such is the nature of human greed !

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  • There are a few different things to be said about this.
    Firstly, this is a bad idea and entirely the wrong approach, since housebuyers are more likely to buy homes from SME developers if they meet higher standards than if they meet lower standards, so this policy is self defeating insofar as it aims to support the development of SME's.
    Secondly, the use of Allowable Solutions is intended to allow ALL development meet zero carbon standards. It is not a way of allowing developers to 'buy their way out' as it is a fundamental element of the standard. Since many development types cannot achieve zero carbon on site there is no sensible alternative available today.
    Thirdly, if we were to sell homes on the basis of labelled energy performance then it would be entirely to the developers benefit to develop lower energy homes, provided that the mortgage lenders accept this in their valuation.

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