Minister ‘gives blessing’ to taskforce that will reconsider the status of off-site renewables

A review of the use of off-site renewables in meeting the zero-carbon homes target for 2016 has been launched a week after the communities department ruled out the possibility of any change.

The review will be conducted by a 12-man zero-carbon task group, to be headed by Mark Clare, the chief executive of Barratt Homes. It will report in to the 2016 taskforce chaired by Yvette Cooper, the housing minister.

Last month the Treasury and the communities department said power provided by off-site renewable technologies would not count towards the energy rating of zero-carbon homes, a decision that industry figures said would make meeting the target impossible.

The Treasury’s definition of zero carbon will decree which homes will be exempt from stamp duty, and the communities department’s definition relates to how homes are rated under the Code for Sustainable Homes. Last week the department said there was no prospect of reviewing these definitions.

However, Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, which has set up the task group, said it would look at defining the circumstances under which off-site renewables could contribute to homes ratings under the Code for Sustainable Homes. He said: “Yvette has given her blessing to this.”

He said an off-site renewable energy source might qualify under the government definitions if it could be demonstrated that it had been built with the development in mind and would not have existed otherwise. The taskforce, which reports in the spring, would assess how this might be achieved.

However, a spokeswoman for the communities department said there was no chance of an immediate change to the definitions of zero carbon. She said: “This is not a change of position as the government has not commissioned this review.”