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Welsh Government backs down on green goals

The Welsh Government has backed down on controversial plans to demand a 40 per cent reduction in carbon emissions for new homes.

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Housing Minister Carl Sargeant today announced new homes would be required to reduce carbon emissions by 8 per cent on 2010 levels by 2015.

The original plans drew criticism from communities secretary Eric Pickles, who last month warned the ‘burden of red tape’ would deter house building in Wales.

At the time Mr Sargeant said the comments were ‘completely irrelevant’ and ‘probably ill-informed’.

But today he said the Welsh Government was scaling down the regulations after responses to a consultation revealed fears that the move would restrict house building.

He said the 8 per cent reduction ‘will support more consistent delivery across the housing market, whilst having a close to cost neutral effect on building costs’.

‘I believe this is important given the nature of the current housing market and the need to stimulate housing supply and get builders building.’

The minister pushed ahead with plans to demand sprinklers in new and converted properties - which Mr Pickles also opposed - but said they would only be introduced to high risk properties, such as student halls of residence, care homes and certain hostels, from April 2014.

Other low risk properties will follow from January 2016.

The initial plans were to introduce them to all new properties from the beginning of next year.

Mr Sargeant said: ‘Fire sprinklers in new residential properties will prevent death and injury to householders and firefighters. However, at a time when resources are tight, I have decided to focus effort initially at high risk properties where this measure will have the greatest impact.’

He also announced a shared equity scheme, Help to buy Cymru, will be launched later this year. He said he will work with stakeholders to determine the scope and scale of the scheme.

The Welsh Government is setting up a task force to look into the barriers to development, which will be headed by Robin Staines, director of housing at Carmarthenshire Council.

The task force, drawn from local government, the house building industry, housing associations and funders, will report in December.

The minister concluded: ‘Building more homes is my priority. Doing this will not only meet growing housing need, but also generate growth and jobs, provide work to help people out of poverty and counter the effect of the bedroom tax.’


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