The Government has compromised its ‘zero carbon home’ standard. Housebuilders will now be able to ‘zero carbon’ their new homes in 2016 using an offsetting scheme, rather than by installing more insulation, or renewable technologies like solar PV or solar water heating.
This must be the most housebuilder-friendly Government of all time. Taxpayer funded subsidies – Check. Relaxation of planning rules – Check. Make lending cheaper and easier – Check. Keep interest rates permanently low – Check. Making more public land available – Check. If that was not enough, the coalition government is even watering down one of it’s own policies after caving in to pressure from housebuilders and their lobby groups.
The policy that required all new homes built after 2016 to be zero carbon has now been diluted to such an extent it is virtually pointless. You have to question why the Conservatives ever bothered to change their logo to the current ‘green tree’ if their green policies would never be implemented.
So as the Government announced in the recent Queen’s speech, ‘Zero carbon homes’ will now not actually have to be zero carbon after all, provided the emissions are reduced somewhere else under a carbon offsetting scheme. No doubt the cost of the house builder’s offset contributions will be passed to all new home buyers, but they will not get any of the benefits from reduced energy bills (savings of around £300 a year) in return. So much for the industry’s claim that new homes are more energy efficient and more environmentally friendly!
The allowable solutions regime is being set up to give housebuilders an alternative to compensate for CO2 emission reductions that are supposedly difficult to achieve through design and construction. They will now be able to choose to do this by offering payment to alternative green schemes.