Green pressure group calls for government to make zero carbon condition of public funding

The WWF is proposing that within five years residential development that is financed by the Housing Corporation, or that uses land supplied by English Partnerships, should be zero carbon.

The WWF argues further that all residential development that receives public finance should be zero carbon within 10 years.

This would include the former ODPM’s growth programmes, including the Thames Gateway.

These goals are to be achieved using the Code for Sustainable Homes. This document, which is due to be finalised by the DCLG next month, will set mandatory standards for public sector residential developments.

A spokesperson for the WWF said it was critical to reach zero carbon levels within 10 years. She said: “It’s crucial we do this in two big stages rather than lots of tiny steps. I think it is achievable as long as industry has a clear direction to go in.”

Other members of the code’s senior steering group have argued that the proposals are too ambitious. One said: “A target for 10 to 15 years for zero carbon homes is realistic, but not within four years. This would result in less social housing as schemes would be more expensive.”

John Callcutt, the chief executive of English Partnerships, said he was committed to aiming for zero carbon as soon as possible. He said: “Once it comes out we will immediately start demonstration projects to show we can play a significant role.”

The DCLG has said the code would be voluntary for the private sector. Insiders say ministers are considering whether to make assessment against it compulsory in order to gather information about the carbon performance of private housebuilders.