Zero Carbon Homes lifeline sinks – by 4 votes!
After the Lords had reopened the door to zero carbon homes after peers rebelled by sending back the Bill with a 48 vote defeat of the government in April 2016, on 10 May 2016, the government defeated the amendment in the Lords by a margin of just four votes. This has meant the end for the zero carbon homes story.
In July 2015 George Osbourne used the ‘Fixing the Foundations’ policy to scrap the Zero Carbon Homes initiative. This initiative, introduced in 2006 and subject to much industry investment, would have ensured that all homes built from 2016 would meet zero carbon standards.
However in April 2016 The House of Lords outvoted the government and urged policy makers to honour the commitment made in Paris at the COP21 summit.
The UK Green Building Council was in support of this rejection:
CEO Julie Hirigoyen said: “During the 10 years prior to July 2015, the leading players spanning the house building industry – developers, product manufacturers, contractors and engineers – got behind Zero Carbon Homes, investing heavily and innovating to make it a reality. The unexpected and unwanted scrapping of the policy made a mockery of the government’s green credentials and demonstrated complete disdain for the quality of the nation’s new homes and the industry’s investment.
“Having supported the Paris climate agreement with much fanfare, cutting carbon from new homes and buildings will be vital to achieving our commitments. Re-introducing the zero carbon homes standard would be a clear next step on this journey, and would provide the certainty the industry needs to continue investing in new skills and technologies.”
The House of Lords also recommended an extension of the period of grace given to on-shore windfarm developments that have been affected by the closure of the renewables obligation.
In somewhat bewildering move, the government has defeated the amendments by the lords and the decision to scrap the policy has been passed. This has been met with much criticism from industry professionals.
“We are very disappointed with this decision,” said Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust. “Under the Climate Change Act, we have to achieve at least an 80% reduction in the carbon emissions from our homes by 2050. We need to be building homes now that are 2050 ready.”
Daisy Sands, energy and climate campaigner at Greenpeace UK said “Ditching schemes to support energy efficiency for new homes is a calamitous decision all round. Energy-wasting homes mean higher bills, increased dependence on gas imports from countries like Russia, and more climate-warming emissions. ”
Ed Davey, former secretary of state for energy and climate change suggested David Cameron “may as well hug a coal power station”.
To replace the suggested amendments the government will be undertaking a review of energy efficiency standards. This review is without published timescales or content. What is certain is that the Zero Carbon Homes initiative has reached an untimely end.
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