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Builders give low carbon plans lukewarm welcome

Cutting planning red tape to deliver low carbon homes is welcome news but it needs to be part of an overall package to help householders retrofit their homes, warns the Federation of Master Builders.
The federation was responding to an announcement by the Housing Minister, John Healey, to overhaul the planning system in a move towards a low carbon future.

Brian Berry, director of external affairs at the FMB, said: “Reform of the planning system to make it easier for householders to install their own wind turbines and air source heat pumps is a significant step forward to create greener more energy-efficient homes but it ignores the fact that, for most householders, the cost of such measures will be prohibitive.

“If the Government is serious about its aspiration to retrofit all homes by 2030, it will need to set out a clear joined-up delivery plan, including a range of fiscal incentives to help householders towards the cost of installing greener measures.”

He added: “There is a chorus of support now calling for a cut in VAT to help make our homes greener and more energy-efficient.

“Given that the UK’s housing stock contributes 27 per cent of the UK’s total carbon emissions, it is becoming essential to help householders to make their homes more energy-efficient if we are to have any hope of meeting our legal obligation of cutting carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

“Other measures that the Government should be considering include council tax rebates or reform of stamp duty to help create more energy-efficient homes.

“Rather than coming out with a series of piecemeal initiatives, the Government needs to get its thinking together and set out a comprehensive delivery plan, which includes reform to the planning system; incentives to help householders upgrade their homes to make them more energy efficient and support for employers who want to train their staff to learn the new skills that are needed to create a low carbon Britain.

“Only by tackling all these issues in one delivery strategy will we move towards building a greener Britain.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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