I’m desperate for some holiday reading on green policy but it seems to be elusive

Paul Everall

When I was a civil servant it was always my aim to get lots of government documents out in July so that others could enjoy spending their holidays drafting responses – wasn’t I cruel?

Ministerial announcements earlier in the year would promise consultation in “the summer”. Mind you I can recall occasions when such summers almost lasted until Christmas before anything appeared.

The Zero Carbon Hub launched its report on closing the performance gap at its Nearer to Zero Conference in London on 8 July. During his keynote speech building regulations minister Stephen Williams announced that a consultation on exemptions for small sites from the full requirements to deliver zero carbon homes would take place “shortly”. We have yet to see this. Why?

I recognise, and welcome the fact, that the government has introduced legislation to permit allowable solutions to be taken into account, but we really need to make progress now on how allowable solutions are going to work in practice. They are the final brick in the wall to achieve zero-carbon homes since it is never going to be possible everywhere to get to this standard using fabric efficiencies and on-site renewables alone.

But there is much work to be done in implementing these, and building control surveyors need to know what their role is to be. I do hope that discussions on this can be initiated shortly.

LABC has been a strong supporter of the Hub, which has done much good work on the journey to zero carbon. The financial support from both the government and housebuilding organisations has been essential in achieving this.

New Approved Documents were promised by the end of July but they have not yet appeared.

However, I believe that core funding is now drying up. I do hope that ways can continue to be found to finance the Hub, for there is much work still to be done, and preferably led by them, not least in tackling issues of overheating and ventilation.

It has been said that one of the reasons not enough new homes are being built has been the plethora of different environmental requirements placed on developers by local authorities using planning conditions in addition to meeting the requirements of the Building Regulations. To their credit the government addressed this through the Housing Standards Review, and in response has confirmed that the findings of the Review would be implemented through new guidance in Approved Documents.

Local authorities would not be allowed to add additional requirements through planning. However, the documents were promised by the end of July but they have not yet appeared.

So let us hope that we shall soon have some holiday reading from the government and that further meetings can be held to move the green agenda forward.

Paul Everall is chief executive of LABC