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Government Minister outlines zero carbon small site exemptions

The government is creeping closer to defining what will be deemed a “small site” when Zero Carbon legislation comes into play in 2016. The government has stated that small sites will be exempt from complying with the keen  energy efficiency and renewables targets set by upcoming 2016  Building Regulations. This was meant to allow an easing of the pressure of regulations on smaller builders.

Naturally, the construction lobby has been keen to minimise it’s impact through raising the threshold, as it sees the zero carbon legislation as costly and overly harsh. The House Builders Federation has stated that it views a small site as under 50 units, but this would exempt up to a third of all development and therefore make have a detrimental impact on the the governments  CO2 emissions target up to 2020.

Speaking in the House of Lords last week, Lord Ahmad, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Communities and Local Government, said the government favoured setting the threshold for a small site closer to ten units. He said: “Regarding the site threshold, there has been much press speculation that it could be as high as 50 units. “However, for the recent consultation on section 106 agreements, the threshold was 10 units or fewer. “This is likely to be nearer the figure that we consult on.”

“In that respect, I cannot anticipate the government’s final position but I can say that we will be looking closely at the conclusions of the consultation on the section 106 proposals as we develop our thinking.”

Ahmed also confirmed that the government has dropped plans to remove councils’ ability to set energy efficiency standards higher than building regulations between now and the introduction of zero carbon in 2016. He said these restrictions of councils’ powers would only be introduced alongside the zero-carbon standard. He said: “It shows clearly that we are conscious of the need for a sensible transition arrangement.”

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