Zero Carbon Hub proposes way for builders to pay in lieu of cutting emissions
Carbon payments could raise £1.1 bn
Local authorities could set up multi-million pound funds to pay for carbon reduction measures using contributions from developing associations and house builders, under proposals unveiled this week.
The Zero Carbon Hub, a group of house builders and government representatives which co-ordinates the delivery of zero carbon homes, outlined the idea in a report published on Tuesday.
The funds would be paid by developers to offset any carbon emissions they could not eliminate through the building process when building zero carbon homes. All new homes must be zero carbon by 2016.
The report, based on research by Cooperative Financial Services and accountancy firm Grant Thornton, estimated that £200 million of developer contributions could be borrowed against to raise a total of £1.1 billion.
Under the proposals, this would work by setting a price for carbon emissions. Developers would then make a payment either to a local authority-run community energy fund or pay a third party provider to arrange a project called an allowable solution from a list made by the council.
Allowable solutions include investment in energy from waste plants, charging facilities for electric vehicles and low-carbon street lighting.
House builders must meet minimum standards to reduce carbon emissions from their developments and then use allowable solutions, provided either in the development or offsite, to meet the rest of the zero carbon requirements.
Matthew Bush, sustainability manager at Metropolitan Housing Partnership, described the proposals as ‘a pragmatic solution to building zero carbon homes’. However, he expressed concerns that the practice could lead to confusion and ‘double counting of emission cuts’.
A verification scheme, run by an independent board, will check the projects are delivered, give credits ahead of completion and approve the release of funds.
The cash would pay for projects generating 2,940 GWh of power a year, 37 per cent of the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s target for energy generation from small renewables.
Housing minister Grant Shapps said he would read the report with ‘great interest’.
Gary Porter, chair of the housing and environment board at the Local Government Association, said: ‘It puts local communities first, which would ensure that development delivered through allowable solutions would not only provide environmental benefits but would also fit with the strategic planning aims of the local area.’