Industry leaders criticise ‘modest’ building regulation changes

Industry reacted with disappointment today at the government’s decision to “water down” and delay the requirements for newly built homes to meet more ambitious energy standards.

This week’s announcement to update the Building Regulations, intended as a step towards “zero carbon homes” by 2016, said that new energy standards would cut £200 on typical new homes’ fuel bills.

According to The Micropower Council, this represents only around a fifth of the cut in bills expected under the previous government’s intended policy, resulting in energy bills for consumers living in new homes being around a third higher than expected.

The government has also confirmed implementation will be delayed until April 2014, six months later than intended.

Dave Sowden, chief executive of the Micropower Council, said: “We believe this decision will result in energy bills for consumers occupying new homes being around a third higher and carbon savings less than a quarter, of those anticipated by the previous government’s intended policy.

“The government has made it extremely difficult to react to this announcement because it has made high level claims without publishing any of the detail. It brings very little clarity, will not result in any material additional uptake of low carbon energy technologies, and really is non-news until the details of the Regulations and the Impact Assessment are made available. This simply adds insult to injury following the long delays that have been encountered to regulations that were originally expected to be implemented in October 2013.”

The Solar Trade Association (STA) echoed the disappointment of the Micropower Council with STA chief executive, Paul Barwell, saying: “It’s depressing to see so little leadership from central government in transforming how we build homes in the UK. It is hard to see how such modest improvements in building energy performance will get us to full Zero Carbon standards in 2016 – just three years away.

“Given the current volatility of energy bills, homeowners are ill-served by policies that fail to drive established renewable heat and power generation technologies in new homes. Neither can we see how such modest Part L changes will help the construction industry to develop the skills it needs to build genuinely low or zero carbon homes.”