Net Zero Carbon Development Plan Document - Regulation 19
2 National Context
2.1 The UK's international commitment via the Paris Agreement requires the UK to reduce its carbon emissions to an extent that would limit climate change to no more than 2˚C and pursue a limit of 1.5˚C.
2.2 The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) advises the government on emissions targets and reports to Parliament on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. CCC is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The CCC reports that 40% of UK emissions come from households devising that this can be reduced by continuing to reduce, reuse or recycle waste, switching to smart heating systems and by walking, cycling and investing in a more efficient or an electric car.
2.3 The 2020 CCC update report states that the Committee has assessed a wide set of measures and gathered the latest evidence on the role of climate policies in the economic recovery. Its report highlights five clear investment priorities in the months ahead:
- Low-carbon retrofits and buildings that are fit for the future
- Tree planting, peatland restoration, and green infrastructure
- Energy networks must be strengthened
- Infrastructure to make it easy for people to walk, cycle, and work remotely
- Moving towards a circular economy.
2.4 The report finds that UK action to curb greenhouse gas emissions is lagging behind what is needed to meet legally-binding emissions targets. There is near-complete elimination of greenhouse gas emissions needed from UK buildings to meet the UK's legally binding targets.
2.5 The UK has legislated for net-zero emissions by 2050 and in a statement in April 2021, the Prime Minister announced the UK's ambition to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 78% by 2035. This announcement relates to the UK's sixth carbon budget which sets a restriction on the total amount of carbon to be emitted over a five year period (2033-2037), and subsequent carbon budgets will reduce emissions even further.
2.6 Given the significant proportion of emissions nationally that stem from buildings, it is a key part of the Government's strategy to improve building standards. As a result, the Government has published its intentions to introduce new Building Regulations during 2022, updating Part L for new homes and non-domestic buildings as a first step towards a Future Homes Standard. The new Building Regulations will require standards that are expected to reduce emissions from new buildings in comparison with current standards by 31%. Further, proposals to bring into effect a Future Homes Standard from 2025 have been published. The proposed Future Homes Standard seeks to deliver homes that are zero-carbon ready by:
- setting the performance standard of the Future Homes Standard at a level which means that new homes will not be built with fossil fuel heating, such as a natural gas boiler.
- future-proofing homes with low carbon heating and high levels of energy efficiency.
- ensuring no further energy efficiency retrofit work will be necessary to enable them to become zero-carbon as the electricity grid continues to decarbonise.
2.7 The Government expects the proposals for a Future Homes Standard to "ensure that an average home will produce at least 75% lower CO2 emissions than one built to current energy efficiency requirements. In the short term this represents a considerable improvement in the energy efficiency standards for new homes. Homes built under the Future Homes Standard will be 'zero carbon ready', which means that in the longer term, no further retrofit work for energy efficiency will be necessary to enable them to become zero-carbon homes as the electricity grid continues to decarbonise."
2.8 The Future Homes Standard includes proposals for fabric first to achieve energy efficient building construction and low carbon heat options, such as an intention "to move away from heating our homes with fossil fuels" recognising that it is "unlikely that there will be a one-size-fits all solution, so multiple technologies will play a role", whilst recognising that "Currently, electrification is one of the few proven scalable options for decarbonising heat. As set out in the consultation, we expect heat pumps will become the primary heating technology for new homes under the Future Homes Standard and we believe that it is therefore important to build the market for them now".
2.9 Alongside its plans to decarbonise new buildings by 2025 through the Future Homes Standard, the Government has clarified its position with regard to the power of Local Authorities to set standards which go beyond the Building Regulations. Specifically, the proposals state:
"All levels of Government have a role to play in meeting the net zero target and local councils have been excellent advocates of the importance of taking action to tackle climate change. Local authorities have a unique combination of powers, assets, access to funding, local knowledge, relationships with key stakeholders and democratic accountability. This enables them to drive local progress towards our national climate change commitments in a way that maximises the benefits to the communities they serve. As part of this, the Government wishes to ensure that we have a planning system in place that enables the creation of beautiful places that will stand the test of time, protects and enhances our precious environment, and supports our efforts to combat climate change and bring greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
We recognise that there is a need to provide local authorities with a renewed understanding of the role that Government expects local plans to play in creating a greener built environment; and to provide developers with the confidence that they need to invest in the skills and supply chains needed to deliver new homes from 2021 onwards. To provide some certainty in the immediate term, the Government will not amend the Planning and Energy Act 2008, which means that local planning authorities will retain powers to set local energy efficiency standards for new homes."
2.10 Alongside this, lenders, investors and shareholders are likely to put increasing pressure on developers to decarbonise. This combination of shifting national policy and changes to the way development is financed, provide important context to local planning policies which support decarbonisation of new development.
2.11 In declaring a climate emergency, WDC has committed to "facilitating decarbonisation by local businesses, other organisations and residents so that total carbon emissions within Warwick District are as close to zero as possible by 2030." The Council is therefore committed to introducing standards which enable net-zero carbon buildings as soon as possible. Recognising the Government's position that "local planning authorities will retain powers to set local energy efficiency standards for new homes",Warwick District Council is committed to bringing forward policies ahead of the Government's stated timetable for the Future Homes Standard, whilst ensuring the approach we take broadly aligns with the approach set out in the Government's outline proposals.This DPD provides the building standards policies to achieve this and (except where policies within the existing Local Plan are replaced by the DPD), these policies replace and supplement those within the adopted Warwick District Local Plan, 2011 – 2029 (See Section 11). The policies will be incorporated and built on in the preparation of the emerging South Warwickshire Local Plan.