Headlines: December 14th, 2006



Planning authorities are being issued with a set of new measures designed to put tackling climate change at the heart of the planning system and the way we build new homes. The proposals have been unveiled by the Communities Secretary, Ruth Kelly, who described them as challenging for planners and housebuilders.

Current figures show that heating, lighting and running our homes accounts for 27 per cent of all UK carbon emissions, around 40 million tonnes. Now the Government is proposing that all new homes should be carbon neutral by 2016. It believes energy efficient insulated buildings, using energy from zero or low carbon technologies can produce no net carbon emissions from all energy use over the course of a year. The strategy is set out in a consultation document ‘Building a Greener Future: Towards Zero Carbon Development’ issued as part of a package of wide-ranging measures.

The proposals include a framework for tightening building regulations up to 2016 to increase energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of new homes. There will be a new Code for Sustainable Homes which will give homeowners better information about the sustainability of their property, including a star rating which can be applied to all new homes. There will also be a draft Planning Policy Statement on climate change which will allow planning strategies to be tested on their carbon ambition. The Policy Statement will expect any new development to optimise its carbon performance and to make the most of existing and planned opportunities for local renewable and low-carbon energy supplies.

Ruth Kelly said it was vital that homes and other buildings were as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible and that more tough action was needed to deliver significant energy use reductions in existing homes. “Within a decade I want every new home to be zero carbon neutral. This country is the first to set this ambition, and we look forward to our international partners matching it,” she said.