The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has called on the government to be mindful of local authorities’ energy efficiency targets when drawing up guidelines on new build houses.
The appeal from GMCA was made in response to proposed guidelines for building regulations that aim to ensure an improvement in energy efficiency standards in new homes.
The plans, which were issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, would require new homes to increase energy efficiency standards by 80% in comparison to the 2013 guidelines, and also incorporate low carbon heating in the buildings.
The concern for the GMCA is that the plans also remove the ability for local authorities to set higher standards of energy efficiency in their area, preventing them from going further in cutting carbon emissions.
In response to the plans Mayor Paul Dennett, GMCA Lead for Housing, Homelessness and Infrastructure, acknowledged the improvement that these new plans provided but believes they “[stop] short of giving us the freedom to go further.”
For Dennett these plans are particularly concerning for Manchester, given the carbon neutrality target the city has set:
“These proposals actually jeopardise our position, where we’ve committed to a target of net-zero carbon buildings by 2028, and carbon neutrality by 2038 – twelve years sooner than the national target.
“We can’t future-proof our places by building new homes today that we already know will need to be retro-fitted tomorrow to meet our targets, especially as our analysis already tells us that we need to retro-fit 61,000 homes per year in Greater Manchester if we’re to meet our 2038 carbon neutrality aspirations.”
Councillor Andrew Western, GMCA Lead for the Green City-Region portfolio, added: “It’s vital that these issues of sustainability and energy efficiency are taken into account when reviewing building regulations, and it’s an encouraging direction of travel. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go far enough.
“We’ve set out clear plans and a clear timescale for decarbonising our city-region, so it’s very disappointing to see them put at risk by a government effectively tying us to a lower standard.”
If approved, the new plans would take effect later this year.