House of Lords votes against government plans to scrap zero carbon homes requirement

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Zero carbon homes could be re-introduced after the House of Lords voted against the government’s decision to scrap requirements for all new homes to be zero carbon.

The Lords defeated the government by 48 votes on the zero carbon homes amendment during the report stage of the Housing & Planning Bill.

The amendment, drafted for Lib Dem life peer Baroness Parminter and crossbencher Lord Krebs by the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE), proposes that all new homes built in England from April 2018 be zero carbon.

It comes after the government scrapped a target in July 2015 for all new homes to be built to zero carbon standards from April 2016.

The bill will now return to the House of Commons where amendments, including the zero carbon one, will be debated by the government. MPs could agree or disagree with peers’ amendments and could themselves propose alternative amendments.

Welcoming the news, UKGBC chief executive Julie Hirigoyen urged ministers to re-consider their decision to scrap the zero carbon homes target.

She said: “Having supported the Paris climate agreement with much fanfare, cutting carbon from new homes and buildings will be vital to achieving our commitments.

“Re-introducing the zero carbon homes standard would be a clear next step on this journey, and would provide the certainty the industry needs to continue investing in new skills and technologies.”  

Despite the Lords amendment, the ACE said in a briefing document that it is “too soon to tell” if the government will accept the changes but said “the issue is very much on their radar and they will be forced to consider their position.”

It added that there is a possibility the amendments could be accepted by the government in order to avoid a stalemate as the bill bounces between the houses.

The ACE said: “Given that the government always wants to get its bills through without undue delay or hassle, there inevitably comes a point somewhere during ping pong when they start to make concessions – otherwise there is simply a stalemate and, if this can’t be resolved, the bill will eventually fall.”

Richard Twinn, policy advisor at the UKGBC, agreed that the government could be open to negotiation on zero carbon homes to get the bill through quickly.

He added: “The government can’t afford to go back and forth with the Lords as that will hold up the bill and they can’t push through their flagship policies like Starter Homes.”