Court rejects the argument that government’s decision to scrap change to Part L of building regulations was unsound

Eric Pickles

A judge has rejected a legal challenge against the government’s decision to scrap plans for a “conservatory tax”, which would have boosted the retrofit market.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles announced in December 2012 that the government would not be pushing ahead with plans to introduce a “consequential improvement” under Part L of the building regulations, which would have forced home owners to upgrade the energy performance of their buildings when making other significant improvements.

Pickles scrapped the proposals despite widespread industry support. According to the government’s own figures the new regulations would have given a boost to the government’s flagship Green Deal scheme, resulting in 2.2m more households taking it up.

The plans had been consulted on earlier in the year, but had sparked a media backlash after they were dubbed a “conservatory tax”.

The Association for the Conservation of Energy subsequently challenged the decision.

However, in a hearing yesterday Mr Justice Nichol ruled against ACE and ordered the organisation to pay the government’s costs in preparing a defence as well.

He ruled that the government was entitled to make any decision it liked following the consultation provided it had considered the representations received.

Nichol added that even though 82% of respondents had supported the proposals to introduce the change in regulations Pickles was entitled to rule in favour of the minority that opposed it.

Andrew Warren, director of ACE, said: “I am very grateful to the hundreds of people who have approached us in support of our initiative. I am sorry we have not proved able to challenge this most perverse of all decisions successfully.”