Milton Keynes carbon tax scheme reaps rewards while CO2 emissions payments could create heavy burden for UK cement industry

Milton Keynes Council has begun reaping the rewards of a pioneering scheme to raise money by taxing the carbon emissions of new developments and then spending the revenue on upgrading the energy efficiency of existing homes.

The scheme, begun in April 2007, has seen developers pay into a fund according to the carbon emissions generated by new homes in return for planning permission, reported Building. The average house generates around £400 tax, but developers pay nothing if their schemes are carbon neutral.

The city council says it has raised £250,000 from ten completed residential schemes, which is enough to insulate 1,000 homes. The council has set up a not-for-profit company to administer the scheme, which offers cavity wall and loft insulation at a subsidised price of £95 per installation.

The money is collected under the section 106 system. Other local authorities with plans to produce similar schemes include Ashford in Kent, Reigate and Banstead in Surrey, and Brighton.

Proposed EU rules to make cement firms pay for carbon dioxide emissions by buying carbon emissions allowances could kill the industry in the UK, the British Cement Association (BCA) has warned.

The BCA claims the EU plans, under which firms would have to pay emissions allowances from 2013, will price the UK’s £755m industry out of the market and lead to over 6,000 job losses. This gloomy prediction, reported in Construction News, was backed up by research from the Boston Consulting Group, which found that allowances for 2013 are currently priced at about £19.50 a tonne, but would be expected to rise to £32 a tonne in five years. A price level of over £28 a tonne for CO2 allowances would threaten Britain’s entire industry, it said.

Over six times the required number of energy assessors for non-domestic buildings are about to flood the market despite previous warnings of a shortfall.

According to new figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and first published in the Sunday Telegraph, there is a potential oversupply of almost 2,500 assessors qualified to inspect buildings and issue energy performance certificates.

Warnings in September that fewer than 300 had qualified had failed to take into account the 2,250 waiting to qualify or in training, reports Building magazine.