Let’s build a carbon neutral future, MP urges ministers

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Penzance’s MP Derek Thomas has used a debate on the Queen’s Speech to call on the Government to make sure the UK’s homes are carbon neutral. PICTURE: PAUL WILLIAMS

26th May 2021

By Juliet Lunam

West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas has used a debate on the Queen’s Speech to call on the government to make sure the UK’s homes are carbon neutral.

Government has pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2050 with a 78 per cent reduction in 14 years.

Mr Thomas pointed out in Parliament the fact that housing accounts for 14 per cent of the total UK emissions.

He said: “The 2020s must be the decisive decade of progress and action on climate change, including the significant task of renovating and decarbonising the UK’s 28 million homes.

“We must turn to fixing the problem rather than keep building on it.”

Mr Thomas said the Planning White Paper, currently being drawn up, must include tangible and ambitious measures to deliver environmental protections and climate change mitigation.

The legislative framework for new homes should, he said, ‘strengthen energy efficiency standards, provide a strong assessment of environmental impacts of the built environment, bolster the National Planning Policy Framework and drive up the requirements for net gain bio diversity’.

Accompanying this, the Government must develop ‘a highly skilled, highly motivated workforce which leads the world in developing and building homes which are great to live in, cheap to run and are carbon neutral.’

This can be achieved, he said, by ensuring the planning rules only accept the greenest homes and by encouraging construction colleges to shift towards teaching the latest methods and technologies and building companies to take on and train apprentices to build homes ‘we can be proud to live in’.

In addition to ensuring new homes are carbon neutral, Mr Thomas said the government must also improve the quality and efficiency of existing homes.

Mr Thomas has long campaigned for support in reducing the large number of draughty, damp and fuel-inefficient homes in West Cornwall and helped lobby government for £1.5 billion of funding for Cornwall Council which will retrofit 75,000 homes across the county.

“The government has an amazing opportunity to set the standard and seize the day by drafting planning legislation which delivers carbon neutral homes,” Mr Thomas added. “This will lead to growth in skilled well-paid, fulfilling jobs in every part of the UK while providing the homes we all need and driving down the cost of living.”

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