Shadow chancellor Ed Balls backs key aims of Building’s Green for Growth campaign in letter to Eric Pickles
The Labour Party has backed two key aims of Building’s Green for Growth campaign in an open letter to communities secretary Eric Pickles that called for the government to clarify its commitment to zero carbon homes.
The letter from shadow chancellor Ed Balls, shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint, and shadow housing minister Jack Dromey, called on the government demonstrate its commitment for all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016 by ending the delay on bringing forward new building regulations aimed at setting out the standards that builders should adhere to.
The letter, published in full below, also raised concerns over the uncertainty of the price of carbon in the so-called allowable solutions proposals, which enable developers to invest in offsite carbon mitigation schemes and are intended to work alongside the zero carbon policy.
For full details of Building’s Green for Growth campaign see here
Both issues form key parts of Building’s Green for Growth campaign, which calls on the government to immediately identify a realistic trajectory to zero carbon all new buildings, as well as completing as a matter of priority work on the associated mechanisms to the zero carbon policy, such as allowable solutions.
The letter comes as 28 MPs have signed an early day motion in parliament expressing support for Building’s Green for Growth campaign, with Tory peer John Gummer, the chair of the committee on climate change and former environment secretary, also backing the campaign.
The letter said: “We write to express our serious concern at the seemingly endless delay to clarifying the standards which builders should adhere to in 2013 through Part L, and the uncertainty over the price of carbon through so-called Allowable Solutions in 2016.
“The ongoing delay is both highly detrimental for delivering urgently needed new homes, and puts at serious risk what has been a totemic green policy - further dispelling the myth that this is ‘the greenest government ever’.”
The letter also referred to the unprecedented alliance of construction and property industry bodies that signed an open letter to chancellor George Osborne last month, calling on the government to act on Building’s Green for Growth campaign.
Paul King, UK Green Building Council chief executive, welcomed the letter. “By providing the clarity so urgently needed on changes to the building regulations and confirming its support for zero carbon homes, government could inject confidence into a sector with huge growth potential for the UK economy,” he said.
“Unfortunately the chancellor appears intent on blocking a key green policy with widespread industry support and once again undermining the Coalition’s claim to be the ‘greenest government ever’.”
Full text of the letter below:
Friday 15 February
Dear Secretary of State
In 2006, the Labour Government introduced a ground-breaking policy for all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016, with wide support from both business groups and NGOs. Meeting both environmental and economic objectives, the policy unleashed a wave of innovation in the construction sector and supply chain, putting UK companies in a position to exploit the opportunities from exporting innovative new products, skills and expertise abroad.
We write to express our serious concern at the seemingly endless delay to clarifying the standards which builders should adhere to in 2013 through Part L, and the uncertainty over the price of carbon through so-called Allowable Solutions in 2016. The ongoing delay is both highly detrimental for delivering urgently needed new homes, and puts at serious risk what has been a totemic green policy - further dispelling the myth that this is ‘the greenest Government ever’.
The cornerstone of the policy was an agreed trajectory to 2016, with uplifts to Building Regulations in 2010 and 2013, with the final step in 2016 including Allowable Solutions, which would enable builders to achieve the zero carbon standard by investing in offsite forms of carbon mitigation. We strongly urge you to set out what the uplift will be in 2013, and ensure it is sufficient to enable a smooth transition to the full zero carbon standard in 2016, together with the necessary details on Allowable Solutions. Back-sliding on the 2013 uplift, or indeed the Allowable Solutions policy, will effectively render the 2016 target meaningless and represent a complete failure of leadership by this Government.
We understand that as recently as January, a broad coalition of construction and property groups publicly restated their support for the zero carbon policy through an open letter to the Chancellor. We also understand that the Zero Carbon Hub, a public-private body previously funded by CLG, has done much of the ground-work needed to prepare the industry for these changes, yet the delay goes on.
Ed Balls MP, Caroline Flint MP and Jack Dromey MP