Housing minister says long-awaited document will not appear until September ‘at the earliest’

The government has delayed the publication of a long-awaited consultation on how it will define the zero-carbon standard that housebuilders will have to reach by 2016.

In a letter to the 2016 taskforce, seen by Building, housing minister Caroline Flint says the consultation, which was to be issued before the summer recess, will now not see daylight until September “at the earliest”.

The delay means the government is unlikely to arrive at a finalised definition of zero carbon before the end of the year, as was promised in this year’s Budget.

Flint wrote the letter in response to a private letter from Stewart Baseley, executive chair of the Home Builders Federation (HBF), which said that housebuilders could not be expected to meet government zero-carbon targets without major changes in energy policy.

Flint’s response does not explicitly address the concerns raised by the HBF, but says the “frustrating” delay in publication is down to “a number of complex issues that need to be addressed relating to technical, economic and wider policy considerations”. It also says officials from “elsewhere in Whitehall” are involved in resolving the issues.

The zero-carbon standard that builders will have to meet by 2016 has been a fraught issue, because it requires renewable power to be produced to run home appliances. The HBF believes that this should be the responsibility of either the government or the energy industry, not housebuilders.

Paul King, chair of the Zero Carbon Hub, designed to oversee the move to zero carbon, said: “Launching a consultation in September makes it difficult to get anything out by the end of the year.”