George Osborne has announced the end of the UK’s zero carbon buildings policy.
The Productivity Plan confirms that the government is dropping the zero carbon buildings policy first announced in 2007. Included in the widely trailed announcement of changes to the planning process is a statement that
“The Government will repeat its successful target from the previous Parliament to reduce net regulation on house builders. The government does not intend to proceed with the zero carbon Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme, or the proposed 2016 increase in on-site energy efficiency standards, but will keep energy efficiency standards under review, recognising that existing measures to increase energy efficiency of new buildings should be allowed time to become established”. (See para 9.17, penultimate bullet, page 50 of the document)
This means that the 2016 zero carbon homes target is being dropped, as is the 2019 target for non domestic zero carbon buildings. It also means that there will be no further changes to Part L in any form in 2016.
This is not a huge surprise. Getting the changes to Part L that zero carbon needed was already looking challenging. And it has been clear for some time that the offsetting elements of the Allowable Solutions scheme did not fulfil the requirements of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, under which the UK has to deliver nearly zero energy buildings from 2021 (and 2019 in the public sector). So now we do have the clarity that industry has been seeking. The next key target for Part L is nearly zero energy buildings, and we have to be ready to build them for the public sector by 1 January 2019. All that the government have to do now is work out how.
Full details of the Productivity Plan can be found on the Gov.uk website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/443897/Productivity_Plan_print.pdf