Building regulations minister Don Foster refuses to allay industry fears that the government is backing away from zero carbon commitment

Don Foster

Don Foster

Building regulations minister Don Foster has refused to allay industry fears that the government may be backing away from the plan to make all new homes zero carbon from 2016.

Many in the industry have feared the government may be rethinking its commitment to the 2016 zero carbon target, after the Department for Communities and Local Government delayed its response to a consultation on changes to Part L of the building regulations, which in part is aimed at setting out the green standards that builders should adhere to leading up to the 2016 target.

Speaking at Ecobuild this week, Foster said he would make an announcement on the Part L proposals in the spring.

But when Building asked Foster if he would give assurances to industry that the 2016 target would remain in place, he said: “I’m going to make absolutely no assurance about what I’m going to announce in the spring.”

He said the government was committed to introducing the requirement for zero carbon homes at some point and it would “do everything we can, on as many fronts as possible, to move in that direction”.

He said his spring statement on changes to Part L for 2013 would include details of longer term goals.

Foster said he knew the changes to Part L of the regulations, which governs the energy efficiency of buildings, was the “one issue” that the industry wanted answers from him on and that he “knew people wanted certainty”.

However, he said: “I have to tell you it’s something I am genuinely working very hard on. Like you I’m trying to get things sorted quickly. But the truth is these are important decisions and they do take time.”

He said he was struggling to strike a balance between improving standards and encouraging activity in the house building sector, which is lagging far behind what it needed to meet the country’s housing needs. “Decisions on energy efficiency measures are not taken in a bubble,” he said.