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UK Government Scraps ‘Zero Carbon’ Homes Plan

Ben Webster, The Times

A plan to make all new homes “zero carbon” from next year has been abandoned by the government in a move which house builders say will save the average buyer £2,500. Builders will no longer be forced to install solar panels, heat pumps and other measures to reduce the need for new homes to use fossil fuels.

George Osborne, the chancellor, also cancelled plans to require builders to offset carbon dioxide emissions from new homes by paying for reductions elsewhere, such as insulation for existing homes or LED street lighting.

The Home Builders Federation welcomed the announcement, saying that the offsetting and renewable energy measures needed to meet the zero- carbon homes standard would have cost about £2,500 per home, which would have been passed on to buyers.

A spokesman for the federation said that the extra cost was effectively a “green tax” on new homes, which were already highly energy efficient under existing regulations.

He said that the cancellation of the standard would also increase the supply of new homes because the lower cost of construction would make marginal sites financially viable.

The UK Green Building Council, which campaigns for sustainable homes, said that Mr Osborne’s announcement would raise energy bills for new homes.

Julie Hirigoyen, the chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: “This announcement is the death knell for zero-carbon homes. It is short-sighted, unnecessary, retrograde and damaging to the house building industry which has invested heavily in delivering energy efficient homes. Britain needs more housing but there is no justification for building homes with a permanent legacy of high energy bills.”

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