Environmental Audit Committee says ODPM is reluctant to take on the building sector over sustainability.

A cross party committee of politicians has slammed government proposals for a Code for Sustainable Homes, accusing it of setting low standards and being too afraid to take on the building sector.

The Environmental Audit Committee's report, published yesterday, criticised the ODPM's recent announcement that it was strengthening the Code, claiming the new measures did not represent a significant step forward. It also recommended that Government should prioritise the environmental impact of building new homes over other social and economic factors.

Tory MP Tim Yeo, chair of the committee, said the code had to become compulsory for both the private and public sectors. He said: "Reliance on developers to gradually begin to 'do the right thing' on a voluntary basis is misplaced and is symptomatic of ODPM's reluctance to take on the building sector."

Other recommendations in the report include:

  • Level One (the lowest) of the Code should be equivalent to BRE Ecohomes "very good"
  • Extend Part L of the Building Regulations to include existing housing stock
  • Flood risk measures, such as high-level electrical sockets, should be built as standard in all homes identified as at risk
  • Government must set out a clear timescale in which code standards will be adopted into Building Regulations
  • The Treasury should consider reducing Stamp duty, Council tax and VAT rules for homes built to high environmental standards. Consultation on this should be completed in time for the 2007 Spending Review
  • The Treasury should examine scope for reducing rate of Planning Gain Supplement for developers who build homes to high environmental standards
  • Introduce the Code for Sustainable Homes, which will have minimum standards for energy and water efficiency at every level of the Code, with the lowest levels raised above the level of mandatory building regulations.
The government announced yesterday that it was increasing the lowest level standards in the new Code for Sustainable Homes. Minimum standards for energy and water efficiency will now be above existing Building Regulations, DEFRA said on Tuesday as part of its Climate Change Programme.