CCC advises government to drop small site exemption from zero carbon homes

Out-Law News | 17 Jul 2014 | 3:38 pm |

Climate change advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has advised the government to drop its plans to exempt small sites from the zero carbon homes standard to be introduced by 2016.

The government's zero carbon homes policy requires the mitigation of carbon emissions from all new homes from 2016, but the government announced in the Queen's Speech in June that small sites "which are most commonly developed by small scale housebuilders" will be exempt from the requirements.

In its annual report to parliament (408-page / 6.3 MB PDF), the CCC was critical of the proposals."It is not clear why the economics of efficiency measures or low-carbon heating should significantly differ from larger developments," said the report. "Therefore, this proposal should be dropped unless the government can show clear evidence of its value."

The CCC was also critical of repeated changes to the zero carbon homes policy since its introduction in 2006. "More generally, the scope of the zero carbon homes policy has been changed a number of times in recent years," said the report. "While policy changes can be justified in some circumstances, too frequent change creates uncertainty and can result in badly designed policies, and should therefore be avoided in future."

The intended exemption was confirmed by the Department of Communities and Local Government  (DCLG) on 9 July, although no definition of 'small sites' has yet been given. The DCLG intends to "seek views on how an exemption could best work" in future consultation.