In July, Chancellor George Osborne announced that he would withdraw a commitment to improve the energy efficiency standards of new homes by cancelling an improvement of the building regulations scheduled for 2016. The announcement received widespread condemnation from several hundred businesses who have asked the Chancellor to reverse the decision (1). Cllr Ann Blackburn’s motion stated:
- The negative impact this will have on householders at risk of fuel poverty in new housing.
- The missed opportunity to reduce carbon emissions in new developments.
- The loss of income to the local economy as a result of these lower energy efficiency standards, as householders’ income is spent paying energy bills rather than in local shops and on local services.’
In July, the Green Party called for a cross party campaign by local Councils to specify ‘Passivhaus’ standards on all new homes and buildings constructed on Council land or as a condition of sale on Council land sold for development (2). Passivhaus is an internationally recognised standard that typically means that an average household can have heating bills of less than £100/year due to the highly efficient thermal performance (3)
At a recent (Wed 16th ) council meeting Cllr. Ann Blackburn initially submitted a motion which stated:
‘…This Council, therefore, requests that an early report is brought to the Executive Board to specify Passivhaus Standards on all new buildings on council-owned land and as a condition of sale on any council land.’
However the motion was amended by Labour to say:
‘…..This Council also notes that the Leeds Standard for Housing aims to improve the quality of building, with energy efficiency as a central component of these changes. This approach has emphasised the needs for all housing -whether on Council land or not- to meet high quality energy efficiency standards.
Given Central Government’s clear movement away from policies designed to improve energy efficiency, the Council resolves to ensure practical action takes place at a local level to secure a sustainable future.
Council therefore requests that officers investigate the need for even more challenging, locally set building standards, whilst also promoting and supporting self-builders, community-builders and developers who will seek to build to Passivhaus or similar standards. Council requests that Executive Board receive a report on this within the current municipal year.’
Unfortunately the amount of motions a party can submit is approximately proportional to the number of party councillors on council. The Greens are not yet big enough to change this and the bigger parties do not want this to change.