A consultation launched by the Welsh Government will play a big part in its future energy efficiency policies, says Joanna Rees
Saving energy in new housing has been a long ambition of the Welsh Government. Since 1 January it has the power to legislate for energy efficiency improvements, and the Welsh Government has now launched a consultation on building standards.
National planning policy requirements in Wales already require new homes to exceed part L of the building regulations, including tougher energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emission requirements, but the government aims to further increase energy efficiency. Key points of the consultation document include the continued commitment to energy reduction and zero carbon; a higher standard for dwellings to take effect in 2015; and alterations to planning requirements for use of the code for sustainable homes.
The proposals reflect concern around the risk of over-reliance on technologies and design approaches for which UK experience is limited and an increasing emphasis on fabric and materials. There is also recognition that requests for contributions from developers for social and economic infrastructure need to be realistic.
The zero carbon vision is challenging, particularly against the backdrop of cuts in social housing grants and housing benefits. It will influence the provision of all new housing in Wales. There are 55 questions and responses will play a significant part in the development of policy and the future construction of homes.
The consultation period ends on 23 October, but the Welsh Government will refresh national planning policy later in the year and will consult on a new technical advice note that will consider the impact of policy on the financial viability of development. It intends to legislate to make the planning system more transparent and accessible. A white paper is expected in 2013.
Joanna Rees is a partner at Morgan Cole