Government exempts 'small' sites from zero carbon homes target
Uncertain definition of small prompts fears that a third of new homes could duck green requirements
Report from – Andy Pearson
Up to a third of new homes could be exempt from meeting the government’s zero carbon homes target, according figures released by construction data organisation Barbour ABI.
In last year’s Budget, the government declared that every new home in Britain would have to be constructed to be zero carbon from 2016. But Queen’s Speech announced that homes built on “small sites” will now be exempt from this standard.
The government is yet to define what qualifies as a small site, but the Home Builders Federation expects the exemption to include schemes of up to 50 homes. Sites with 50 homes or fewer accounted for 36.4% of all residential planning applications – over one third of all new homes.
However, if a small site was defined as having fewer than 10 homes then the number of exempt homes would fall to just 12.4%, according to Barbour ABI.
Michael Dall, lead economist at Barbour ABI, said: “There are still many questions to be answered about the zero carbon exemption, such as how a small site is actually defined and how many new homes will fall under this category”.
He added: “The news of the zero carbon exemption will, no doubt, upset many environmental groups who see it as a counter-productive move on the government’s part”.