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Debates delay decision on zero-carbon definition

Agreement on a definition of zero carbon for homes has been further delayed by debate about whether the classification should change depending on where you are in the country.

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)ministers had hoped to have the final recommendations before a Zero Carbon Hub conference on 1 February, but a meeting of the cross-industry task group set up by the hub to compile the report failed to agree on whether developers in the colder north should be allowed concessions on emissions.

The draft guidance on how much carbon individual homes can generate is based on conditions around a notional location near Northampton. The alternative is to have different zero carbon definitions around the country.

Zero Carbon Hub director David Adams said the decision - informing housebuilders what the government’s commitment to make all new homes zero carbon from 2016 means in practice - was too important to rush.

He told H&V News: “The question might be, ‘Is the carbon compliance set nationally, is it a guideline to be set locally, or is it a combination of both?’ Had it been possible [to have the final report in time for the conference], it would have been extremely beneficial.

“But let’s be realistic. It is a complex area and a task group of nearly 50 people. To fit a conference deadline set six months ago doesn’t warrant rushing at the end.”

The final recommendations will not be handed to the DCLG until 16 February.

The delay is a blow to housing minister Grant Shapps, who said last May he would have the zero carbon definition “within weeks”. Insiders claim it is not even close to being agreed.