Transition Bath have been working over the last 2 years to support the council in imposing more sustainable building standards in B&NES. Currently the council imposes Code for Sustainable Homes level 5 on most new developments but this is under threat:
- the current coalition government, under pressure from the large house builders is attempting through the Deregulation Bill to stop al local authorities imposing higher standards in favour of minimum standards (this threat is covered in more detail here). However there is an amendment to the Deregulation Bill currently going through parliament which should allow local authorities to continue to impose higher standards
- Simon Emerson, the Planning Inspector, who is currently examining the B&NES Core Strategy seems minded to strike out B&NES’s Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5 requirement as ‘is it not in line with the trajectory of government strategy’ – despite the fact that B&NES’s current position is still entirely legal
The impact of the watering down of these standards is likely to be significant as they are likely to effect the majority of the 12,700 homes to be built in Bath in the next 15 years:
- Energy bills in homes built to minimum standards are likely to be 60% higher than Code for Sustainable Homes level 5 homes (an increase from £600 to £1000 per year)
- If you include Solar PV Feed-In-Tariffs in the calculations the energy bills rise 400% from £200 per year to £1000 per year
- Carbon emissions rise by 215%. The impact across the 12,700 homes to be built under the Core Strategy is about 12,600 tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to 60MW of Solar PV or 10 large wind turbines – about 30 times B&NES current output from renewables
What can Transition Bath do to ensure that the council’s current policy continues?
In short we are not sure. We have done our best to lobby the government over the last year but we feel that the government is deaf to representations from groups like ourselves and home openers instead favouring the views of large home builders. In an ideal situation we would have approached our MP Don Foster, but feel this may be wasted effort as much of the change in regulation has been formed during his recent role as Minister for Building Regulation. The amendment to the Deregulation Bill is our brightest hope and it looks as though it will go through as the Bill has got to the 3rd reading with the amendment intact. Unfortunately we think there is a significant risk that Simon Emerson will ignore the amendment and strike out B&NES’s Code for Sustainable Homes requirements from the Core Strategy?
It is clear that the majority of Bath residents support our views – more than 98% of those in our recent housing survey stated that B&NES was right to impose higher standards and that the government was wrong to seek to reduce standards.
Potential thoughts on what we can do:
- Lobby Don Foster, MP – but we feel this may be a lost cause
- Lobby the future Bath parliamentary candidates
- Lobby our local councillors to try to get them to ensure that the Planning Inspector doesn’t strike out the higher standards from the Core Strategy
- Publish our views in the Bath Chronicle
We would appreciate your views? – please contact us at email@example.com
Further Background Reading
If you have time, we have put together a series of post which provide more background information on the issues involved:
- The impacts of the Deregulation Bill 2013/2014 on Bath’s future homes
- The cost and benefits of building new homes to Code for Sustainable Homes level 5
- Why more sustainable homes in Bath should not be more expensive to buy?
- A survey of your views of future housing in Bath