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Housing: Construction

Volume 506: debated on Monday 1 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps he is taking to increase the environmental standards to which new houses are built. (319453)

The Government have taken a number of steps to increase the environmental standards of new homes by reducing carbon emissions, the risk of flooding from surface water run-off and improving water efficiency. Specific measures include:

1. Setting a target for all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016 by raising energy efficiency standards under Part L of the Building Regulations with interim steps in 2010 and 2013. This regulatory approach to achieving a step change in the carbon footprint is supported by other, non-regulatory measures including:

The Code for Sustainable Homes—a voluntary set of standards for assessing the sustainability of new homes and whose highest level (level 6) requires zero carbon;

Exemplar programmes, including zero carbon Eco towns and also the Homes and Communities Agency’s Carbon Challenge which is taking forward developments built to level 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes;

Financial support for the Zero Carbon Hub, a delivery body established by industry to overcome the practical barriers to delivery of zero carbon homes;

Stamp duty land tax exemption for zero carbon homes.

Clarifying the role of local planning in supporting the zero carbon policy through the Planning Policy Statement on climate change.

2. Introducing water efficiency targets at 125 litres per person per day into Part G of the Building Regulations in line with standards set in the Code for Sustainable Homes at level 1 and 2.

3. National Planning Policy Statements also allows local authorities to set higher than national standards into local planning policy. This means that as long as the local circumstances justify it, and does not make house-building unviable, local authorities:

could set a code level standard for new housing development in particular locations.

should require new development to be planned to make good use of opportunities for decentralised and renewable and low-carbon energy—planning policies should support innovation and investment in sustainable buildings.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps he is taking to raise awareness of the Construction Skills Certification Scheme among local government procurement officers. (319689)

Local authorities are responsible for their own procurement decisions. In doing so, they will have regard to good practice, including where relevant the use of construction industry competency card schemes.