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Two vital questions

17/07/2015 17:27:53

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Well, four actually.  Two that Local Authorities should be asking, and two for the rest of us.

One week ago today the Government cancelled the UK’s ten-year journey towards introducing zero-carbon homes by 2016.  At the same time it announced that there will be no uplift in Part L of the Building Regulations for the foreseeable future.  A few months before this, the Planning and Energy Act was amended so that Local Authorities could no longer set local energy efficiency standards higher than Building Regs.  The amendment was due to take effect when the national zero-carbon standard kicked in in 2016.  So the two questions which Local Authorities need answers to are:

Q1.  Now that zero-carbon 2016 will not happen at all, can LAs in fact continue to specify higher local standards indefinitely?  (That would be nice - but we suspect that it wasn’t Government’s intent.)

Q2.  Either way, can LAs carry on using the surviving clauses of the Planning and Energy Act to specify that a certain proportion of a development’s energy be supplied from renewable or low-carbon sources?  Without this ability there would be very little left to drive innovation at the local planning level.

As for the rest of us, we should be demanding answers to the following:

Q1.  In the absence of a national zero-carbon policy, and with site standards now frozen at the already-diluted 2013 level, how will the UK comply with the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, Article 9 of which mandates ‘nearly-zero energy’ buildings by 2020?

Q2.  Given that enhancing the standard of new buildings is now firmly off the agenda, what effect will this have on the UK’s ability to meet the targets in the Climate Change Act?

Over to you, Mr Osborne…

July 2015

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