The scrapping of the Zero Carbon Homes policy in July 2015 has left a policy vacuum that urgently needs filling, says the Solar Trade Association. The solar trade body has submitted its response to the government’s ‘Cutting red tape review of house building’, calling for the government to set out a clear and ambitious regulatory roadmap for sustainability standards in new build.
The government’s focus is now on maximising build rate however lower standards lock in higher carbon emissions, as well as higher energy bills for occupants, for decades to come. Higher standards provide a level playing field on which different emissions reduction options can compete and there is no evidence that they stop the construction industry from building houses, says the Solar Trade Association. The cost of solar energy has fallen dramatically in recent years and new build is an ideal way of taking the technology forward.
The STA’s response highlights that the scrapping of Zero Carbon Homes policy came just one week after the government’s official watchdog, the Committee on Climate Change, recommended in its 2015 progress report to Parliament that the government should “implement the zero carbon homes standard without further weakening”.
The response also highlights that in the absence of suitable standards through national Building Regulations, it is important that local authorities continue to require house builders to use their planning powers to incorporate minimum levels of on-site renewable energy in new housing developments.
Mike Landy, Head of Policy at the Solar Trade Association commented:
“The scrapping of Zero Carbon Homes policy in July 2015 was one of the most incomprehensible acts of the new government, given that we were nine years into a ten year plan that hundreds of companies were working towards. It has left a policy vacuum and the government has yet to explain the rationale for its decision.”
“Solar energy is perfectly suited to new build and ought to become a standard feature on new housing. The 70% cost reductions since 2010 means that any additional build costs can be recouped within years through lower energy bills – builders need to work with surveyors, estate agents and mortgage lenders to ensure these benefits are recognised”.
“Local authorities have a responsibility to help achieve the 80% carbon emission reduction required by the Climate Change Act. We encourage them to use their planning powers to require house builders to use solar energy as a highly effective and cost-effective way of contributing to that goal.”