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Industry reacts to ‘irresponsible’ Treasury decision on zero carbon scheme

The Treasury has announced, without consultation, that it is dropping plans to increase future energy efficiency and carbon abatement requirements in new homes/buildings.

It has also announced that it will not proceed with the planned ‘Allowable Solutions’ system which would have allowed house builders to offset carbon emissions elsewhere instead of installing renewable and energy saving measures in the home.

Solar Trade Association head of policy Mike Landy commented: “This retrograde and disappointing move by the Government effectively ends its zero carbon buildings policy, at a time when reducing emissions and energy bills are more important than ever.”

“The Government is putting environmental and energy policy into reverse at the very time its Committee on Climate Change is calling for more, not less action.  To us that seems irresponsible.”

STA analysis shows that only around 7% of new build homes have solar on them at the moment, largely as a result of positive local authority planning policies that are also under threat from the Government’s recent Housing Standards Review.

Sustainable Energy Association CEO Dave Sowden said the industry has been disappointed time and time again by the Government’s lack of ambition on Zero Carbon Homes Policy.

Mr Sowden said: “The Government’s commitment to Zero Carbon Homes was intended to create a pathway to zero carbon buildings. Albeit ambitious, this was an achievable target that industry had the ability to deliver if the Government had ever provided certainty.

“This failure to set a long-term vision for energy efficiency in buildings will result in higher fuel bills for consumers and also a huge bill for the future Governments dealing with retrofit improvements to poorly functioning buildings.”

ADE director Dr Tim Rotheray said: “Wastefulness in the UK’s energy system hampers the productivity of the whole economy, increasing energy bills and emissions. The Government’s new plan misses a major opportunity to recognise that cutting energy waste is a vital step for a more competitive economy.

“Over 84% of energy is lost by the time it reaches our homes and businesses. With household and business energy bills rising, we need to give them the tools to protect themselves against these rising costs.

“The decision to abolish the zero carbon homes standard is a step backward for cutting household energy waste and risks an inefficient housing legacy that will raise the cost of living.”

UK Green Building Council chief executive Julie Hirigoyen said the announcement is the death knell for zero carbon homes. She said it is short-sighted, unnecessary, retrograde and damaging to the house building industry which has invested heavily in delivering energy efficient homes.

“The Government has not consulted the house building industry sufficiently on this sudden announcement,” Ms Hirigoyen added. “This arbitrary and regressive action was not mandated by the Conservative Party manifesto. Just last year the Conservative-led coalition Government enabled the allowable solutions policy in legislation. This stop-start policy making approach gives industry no confidence in the Government’s vision for a low carbon economy and condemns new home owners to higher energy bills.”

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