Michael Howard outlines scheme to replace Part L of Building Regulations with a single thermal energy target

Conservative leader Michael Howard says he will simplify the Building Regulations, as part of a Tory push to set the agenda on environmental issues.

Speaking on Monday at an environment forum hosted by the charity Green Alliance and consultant Environment Resources Management, Howard said he wanted to reduce the complexity

of Part L, the regulations dealing with energy efficiency.

He said: “We have to consider simplifying the current Building Regulations that relate specifically to energy efficiency standards and perhaps replacing them with one simple thermal target.” The proposal, which has yet to be worked out in detail, would be aimed at reducing the amount of form filling on the development industry.

The Tories also:

The Tories would do well to concentrate on existing stock

Pierre Williams, HBF

  • announced a reduction in stamp duty for energy-efficient homes. Buyers who carry out improvements could claim a rebate;
  • expressed scepticism about whether the government could achieve a 20% reduction in CO
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      emissions by 2010;
    • backed the use of combined heat and power, which can increase the efficiency of fuel use considerably.

    Earlier this year the government’s Sustainable Buildings Task Group recommended carbon emission targets of 25% above Part L standards. This prompted criticism from the House Builders Federation, which said developers would be put off building in areas such as the Thames Gateway because of cost.

    Howard hinted that the Tories would steer a middle line between energy efficiency and the housebuilding lobby. He said: “A Conservative government would consult on the most practical timetable to achieve zero emissions from new houses, without compounding the problems of affordable housing.”

    Pierre Williams, communications director at the House Builders’ Federation, said the Tories’ housing policy was “unformed”. He said Part L was complex becasue it dealt with complex issues. He said the Tories ought to focus on carbon emissions from existing homes.

    He said: “Simplicity is welcome …but the Tories would do well to concentrate on the fact we have the oldest housing stock in the European Union.”