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Zero carbon definition delayed again
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The definition of 'zero-carbon' has been delayed yet again - despite a pre-election promise to get the definition of zero carbon finalised “within weeks” of getting into office, the government has backtracked. Housing minister Grant Shapps has announced that the coalition will review the level of on-site renewables required before publishing the final definition of the standard, which all new homes will have to reach after 2016.
Zero carbon definition delayed again

In practice this means that the timetable for reaching a decision on the zero carbon parameters remain unchanged since before the election. The Zero Carbon Hub, the body set up to work out the nitty gritty of the move to zero-carbon construction, which was threatened with the axe immediately after the election, will continue to work on the definition. Shapps said in February he would publish a definition “within the first few weeks” of a Tory administration, but clearly his administration have since realised the complexity of the issue.

Last week Shapps announced that the government is to set up a community energy fund which will be used to pay for district heating and renewable energy schemes. Developers who pay into the fund will not have to install onsite renewables or microgeneration equipment.

It has also been revealed by 'Building' magazine, that under the previous administration civil servants covered up potential savings of £705m in order to help former housing minister John Healey justify scrapping the proposed 'consequential improvements' changes to Building Regulations which would have made existing homes more energy efficient. The changes would have required homeowners to make energy efficiency improvements to their existing property when adding an extension or converting a garage.

Last June, Healey removed the requirement from the draft consultation on the 2010 revisions to Part L. The £705m estimate of potential savings to consumers and businesses was removed from the mandatory economic impact assessment which shows the financial impact of new regulations.

The Association for the Conservation of Energy said it was told by senior civil servants that Healey instructed them to strip out the savings in the public version of the document after the Cabinet had approved the original. The original document, gained under the Freedom of Information Act by the association, showed the potential savings were 2.3 times greater than the cost of energy efficiency improvements.

Healey justified removing the proposal on the grounds that consequential improvements would have cost homeowners too much. Last June he told 'Building': “In my view, in the present economic downturn, the environmental case didn’t offset the cost and potential complexity in the proposals thus far outlined.” The magazine said that when Healey was asked last week about removing the figures, he said that when the impact assessment was completed, that was the version published with the Part L consultation.

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