Council calls for zero-carbon homes

Wednesday, 10 November, 2021

East Hampshire District Council will demand developers build zero-carbon homes as part of radical plans to improve its environmental performance.

The council will seek the highest possible environmental standards in its new Local Plan and will challenge Government planning inspectors to approve them.

East Hampshire’s next Local Plan will be ready for examination by a planning inspector in 2023. If approved it will empower the council to demand that all new developments are energy efficient, zero-carbon homes that are clean and cost-effective.

EHDC has announced ambitious measures following on from its own COP26 event, held in Alton in October, that will place climate change at the heart of its daily operations.

While working on the new Local Plan, the council will also strengthen its current planning policies and set up a ‘Green Team’ dedicated to improving the council’s environmental performance.

Cllr Richard Millard, Leader of East Hampshire District Council, said the new measures will make the council greener than ever before.

“Our new Local Plan will be a ‘Greenprint’ for the district,” he said. “It will set the highest possible standards in sustainable house-building and empower us to demand developers meet those standards.

“It is ridiculous that homes being built now will need to be retro-fitted with energy-saving measures in 10 or 15 years’ time. Today’s homes should be built to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

“That’s why we will be challenging the Government to approve our policies of zero-carbon homes and pushing developers to meet them.

“The Government’s national planning policies do not go far enough, so we will demand more. And if we can enshrine these policies in an adopted Local Plan we will have the power to enforce them.

“Energy efficient homes have a lower carbon footprint and are cheaper and more comfortable for our residents to live in. That meets our environmental priorities and our welfare priorities.

“We know it’s not easy to achieve, but if the Government is serious about stopping climate change they should support our Local Plan and help us build zero-carbon homes in East Hampshire."

While the ‘Greenprint’ Local Plan is being readied, the council’s Planning Team will bolster its current policies to make sure new homes built under the current Local Plan are as sustainable as possible. A six-week public consultation on the environmental improvements to the current Local Plan will begin before the end of the year.

The council is not just focussing on planning. Right across the organisation all new projects and policies brought forward must now contain detailed data on how it will support the fight against climate change. Every officer will be encouraged to consider the climate as part of the day-to-day running of their service.

EHDC will also assemble a Green Team of officers specialising in environmental issues. They will advise colleagues on reducing carbon emissions and lead the council with new initiatives to reduce the organisation’s environmental impact.

The council, which declared a Climate Emergency in July 2019, has already pledged to see 120,000 trees planted in the district, one for every resident. A specialist is to be engaged to manage and accelerate that project.

Cllr Millard said: “Thinking green will be our daily routine. We want to weave it into everything the council does so that every service weighs its impact on the climate as carefully as it considers its budgets and resources.

“Any report brought to Council or Cabinet must be clear on its impact on the climate. This is a change in our outlook that will start from the top and permeate throughout the organisation.

“We will launch a team of officers dedicated to improving the council’s environmental performance. They will help assess the environmental impact of our services and come forward with carbon-busting initiatives of their own.”