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Zero-carbon homes for 2016

The government has reaffirmed its commitment to building zero-carbon homes from 2016 as part of yesterday’s Budget, but green commentators said there was little else to boost green building.

Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that the government will publish a “detailed plan” including a response to the 2012 consultation on the energy efficiency requirements in Building Regulations by May 2013.

The news was welcomed by the UK Green Building Council, which has repeatedly called on the government to confirm its position on zero-carbon homes and believes the policy will support green growth and help the UK meet its legally binding 2050 carbon reduction targets.

“George Osborne’s re-commitment to zero-carbon homes from 2016 is the one shining green beacon in today’s Budget,” said UKGBC chief executive Paul King.

Uncertainty over Part L regulations and the government’s commitment to making all new homes zero-carbon from 2016 has been criticised by the industry, and last month saw senior Labour party figures urging the government to end the uncertainty.

“Today’s Budget statement is helpful and further announcements in coming months will help provide the clarity and certainty that we all need,” said Zero Carbon Hub chief executive Neil Jefferson.

But the lack of any mention at all of the Green Deal or measures for retrofitting buildings in this year’s Budget left the industry again questioning the government’s commitment to green growth.

“The fact that it [the commitment to zero carbon homes] is there is welcome and important, but it looks very solitary in a Budget otherwise devoid of support for green growth, with even the government’s flagship Green Deal failing to get a look in,” Mr King said.

WSP director David Symons also asked if the government has missed an opportunity by not mentioning the Green Deal.

“It’s good news that today’s Budget re-confirmed that all new homes will be zero carbon from 2016,” he said.

“But government has barely started to make Britain’s six million existing homes energy efficient and today’s Budget is a missed opportunity to really help kick-start underfunded policies such as the Green Deal.

“Support to energy reducing jobs would have helped massively expand the 60,000 registered plumbers and builders who are ready to start work right now, and can be contrasted to the 5,000 jobs which shale gas in Lancashire will create by 2020, and which benefited from today’s tax breaks.”

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