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Government makes U turn on zero carbon commitment

The Plan for Growth, published alongside today’s Budget, has reduced the government’s commitment to zero carbon homes.

The changes mean that new housebuilders will only be accountable for those carbon dioxide emissions which are covered by the Building Regulations.

It says: “Building Regulations cover carbon dioxide emissions from energy use through heating,fixed lighting, hot water and building services. The Government will introduce more realistic requirements for on-site carbon reductions,endorsing the Zero Carbon Hub’s expert recommendations on the appropriate levels of on-site reductions as the starting point for future consultation, along with their advice to move to an approach based on the carbon reductions that are achieved in real life, rather than those predicted by models.

“This will be complemented by cost-effective options for off-site carbon reductions, relative to the Government’s pricing of carbon, and Government will work with industry through consultation on how to take this forward.”

Housing minister Grant Shapps says that the new standard for zero carbon homes means a 100% reduction in emissions from homes without the burden of unfair costs for housebuilders

The Government says it will “continue to work with industry on how the principle of its Green Deal scheme can be extended to new homes, enabling house builders to offset the upfront costs of building to more challenging carbon reduction standards.”

Paul King, Chief Executive of the UK Green Building Council said: “In the space of two weeks, this government has gone from a firm commitment on zero carbon homes, to a watered down policy. A zero carbon home will no longer do what it says on the tin. The world leading commitment that new homes would not add to the carbon footprint of our housing stock from 2016 has been scrapped despite a remarkable consensus between industry and NGOs in support of it.

“Thanks to a crude de-regulation agenda we now have a policy that is not only anti-green but anti-growth. Low carbon construction has been one of the few sectors showing genuine green shoots of growth. This U-turn will result in loss of confidence leading to lower investment, less innovation, fewer green jobs and fewer carbon reductions. It is a backward step by a government that wanted to be seen as ‘the greenest ever’.”

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About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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