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House of Lords moves to block bill scrapping Zero Carbon Homes

Posted by Alex Barrett on 9 May 2016 at 2:05 pm

In July of 2015 the government controversially scrapped planned building regulations that would have made all new houses “zero carbon” from 2016. Now there may be hope for zero carbon homes after all, as the House of Lords has moved to block the bill.

The government set out to relax the energy efficiency requirements for new builds last summer. They defended this decision by claiming that it was intended to cut red tape, and encourage construction. However the move was met with consternation. The building industry had spent almost a decade preparing for the transition to zero carbon homes, and felt that the decision to scrap the policy would do nothing to encourage additional construction [1, 2, 3]. The move to abandon the zero carbon homes target was condemned by the Royal Institute of British Architects who described the move as “a significant backwards step that would challenge the UK’s ability to deliver cost-effective, energy efficient homes.” [2]

Now the House of Lords has moved to block the changes. Last week they defeated the government’s attempt to pass the bill by 48 votes during the Lords report stage. [1]

A report published in Feburary by the Select Committee on National Policy for the Built Environment called for the Government to reverse its decision and “implement a viable trajectory towards energy efficiency and carbon reduction in new homes.” The report states that:

 “We disagree with the Government’s decision to remove the zero carbon homes policy and the Code for Sustainable Homes. These decisions are likely to add to long-term housing costs through a reduction in energy efficiency, and we have heard no clear evidence that they will lead to an increase in housebuilding. Nor has the Government given a clear explanation as to how new homes will be energy efficient and environmentally sustainable without the provision of such standards.” [4]

The House of Lords has now made amendments to the bill which will go back to the House of Commons. Further debate is in progress and it remains to be seen whether the Government will reverse its decision.  This move has been praised by those in the construction and energy efficiency industries and is reported to have received considerable cross party support [5]. Interest groups hope to use this reopened debate as an opportunity to make the case for zero carbon housing.

The full report can be found here, and the amended planning bill is available to view online.


  1. UK Green Building Council 
  2. Royal Institute of British Architects
  3. Elmhurst Energy
  4. House of Lords Report (Links to pdf)

Image credit CamellaTWU via flickr

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