Get Zero Carbon Homes agenda back on track with the Infrastructure Bill, urge campaigners

The Solar Trade Association, WWF and the Renewable Energy Association, with support from Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace have criticised MPs as they vote on whether to allow developers to offset their carbon emissions by paying into a fund rather than building low carbon homes. They claim that under the current proposals, “new homes from 2016 will definitely not be zero carbon. At best they will emit only one third less carbon than a home built to 2006 standards.”The organisations urge MPs to back amendments to the Infrastructure Bill and restore Zero Carbon Homes standards to levels recommended by the Zero Carbon Hub.

Reported by Building4Change, the group refers to a number of amendments tabled during the course of the Infrastructure Bill that seek to reinstate the Zero Carbon Hub’s recommended carbon performance for new homes. These include amendments from Liberal Democrat MP Andrew Stunell, former Department for Communities and Local Government Minister, who has been highly critical of the government’s rejection of the original standards.

In a commons debate on 8 December, 2014, Stunell questioned the government’s decision:

“The Government have responded by not accepting the [Zero Carbon Hub’s] proposal for an improvement of between 56% and 60%. Instead, they are going to apply the figure of 44% to all building types-the lower level of saving that the taskforce recommended only for flats. That is a matter of concern, and it is difficult to understand why the Government have come to that conclusion. Was it because of cost or because of the impact on the market?”

The joint letter urges MPs to speak in favour of the amendments in order to get the Zero Carbon Homes agenda back on track.

Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association, also warned that watered-down standards risked causing future problems. "Zero Carbon Homes is in danger of becoming meaningless, with the watering down of the standards meaning homes built after 2016 will need retrofitting in the future, storing up problems which will be more expensive to deal with,” she said.

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