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Zero carbon homes policy scrapped – again

Green Deal
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The government has overruled the House of Lords and again scrapped the zero-carbon homes policy

The House of Lords had attempted to reinstate the super-green standard for all new homes through an amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill put forward by Baroness Parminter.

But the proposals were narrowly thrown out in the House of Commons, with the amendment defeated by just four votes last week.

Instead the government introduced what the UK-Green Building Council has described as a ‘weak clause’ which committed to a review of energy standards in current Building Regulations.

The abandoned zero-carbon rules, which were due to come in to force this year, would have required new housing developments to generate energy through renewable sources such as solar panels or ground-source heat pumps.

However the Treasury announced last July it was ditching the regulations - as well as the proposed zero-carbon Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme - in a bid to boost housebuilding. 

Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: ‘Let’s be absolutely clear. This amendment was never going to get us to zero carbon.

’But it would at least have ensured our new homes meet a minimum carbon compliance standard which has already been met by at least 70,000 new homes.

’The government’s legislative landscape is in danger of locking in carbon emissions for future generations’

‘Devoid of any such legislation, the government’s legislative landscape is in danger of locking in carbon emissions for future generations. New homes will need expensive retrofit measures in future if we’re to meet our ambitious reduction targets.

She added: ‘I take comfort from the level of support we’ve seen over the past weeks, as the Lords came close to forcing the government’s hand. At UK-GBC, we will continue to push for higher standards during the government’s upcoming review of Building Regulations. We will also work to provide those showing leadership – including devolved administrations and the new mayor of London - a strong business case for driving down carbon.’

Speaking about the move to scrap the policy, a Department of Communities and Local Government spokesman said: ’We are already building some of the most energy efficient homes in the world. Our current standards are tough and already have the full support of the industry.

‘Our aim is to speed up house building and not add extra costs and bureaucracy. We do not need extra legislation as existing legislation is already in place to allow energy performance standards to be set in Building Regulations.’

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