Zero Carbon Homes Delay in the UK is 'Harmful' To Property Building

Written by Elena Collins on 25 February 2013

A group of Labour MPs has urged the British Government to clarify its planned changes to the building code in order to boost growth. Labour has urged the Government to say where it stands on zero carbon homes amid claims a lack of clarity is holding back the housing industry.

Senior opposition figures signed an open letter to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, which called for action to end the "dithering and delay" on amendments to the Building Regulations. The letter has been signed by the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary Caroline Flint and Jack Dromey, the Shadow Housing Minister. As well as hitting residential property building programmes, the delay is also hindering jobs and economic growth, they claim.

Part L of the building code is the key area of contention, as this would introduce more stringent energy efficiency standards in new builds from this year. Michael Verity, head of Resources & Energy at Strutt & Parker said: "Developers are starting to consider how they will react to these proposed changes but as with all energy policy delays it creates uncertainty and clarity will be welcomed. We are advising on the heating solution for a new village extension where mains gas is not available and it is currently a fine economic line between a biomass district heating system or individual oil boilers, clarity on Part L would help this decision."

It would also provide more detail on how the Government will work towards achieving its target for all new properties to meet "zero carbon" standards, by 2016 in the case of residential property and by 2019 for commercial property.

The Labour team is arguing that the Government needs to clarify to what extent energy efficiency standards will be uplifted this year.
 If there is no uplift this year, they warn, then there is the difficult prospect of a very sizeable uplift needed in 2016 if the commitment is to be met.

Speculation has been circulating that the Government might be planning to water down the new regulations.
Labour's Shadow Housing Minister Jack Dromey MP said: "As the economy bumps along the bottom and we face the biggest housing crisis in a generation, the last thing the house building industry needs is massive uncertainty caused by the endless dithering and delay of this Government."

As well as an announcement on Part L of the building code, he also said clarity is urgently needed on the allowable solutions policy, which would enable developers to pay into a pot for all the carbon they can't mitigate on the site of the development.

The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has said there is no such delay in its announcements of wider reforms to the planning and building regulations. It has always stated that the changes would be laid out later this year, DCLG maintained.

Categories: Governance, Housing