No commitment to zero carbon homes
I HAVE received the notification from Mendip District Council of the Persimmon planning application for 220 houses on land “West of Wells”.
The proposal (if approved) would make a significant change to our environment, effectively ending the green belt that has existed between Wells and some of the surrounding hamlets and villages – but that isn’t my principal concern. Nor is my principal concern the impact on wildlife, or the lack of essential services for an increased population, or the lack of social housing although all of these are dear to my heart.
My principal concern is, that at a time when we have been forcefully made aware of the impending Climate Crisis by the United Nations report (IPCC 2018) and in the week which sees the start of the UN Climate Change Conference in Poland (the sole focus of which is to seek intergovernmental agreement on mechanisms to limit our continued global temperature rise), none of Persimmon’s proposed West of Wells houses are designed to be carbon negative or even carbon zero.
When I read through the Persimmon proposal I was shocked by the lack of commitment to environmentally effective building. In their application Persimmon make liberal use of the phrase “where possible” with regard to ecobuilding measures. I think by “where possible” they actually mean “where profits are unaffected”.
As a reminder to readers, in
August Persimmon reported pre-tax profits for the first six months of
2018 at £516.3 million. A 13 per cent increase on the same period in the previous year. It has been reported that one reason for the growth in profit was the benefit to builders of the Government’s Help-to-buy scheme.
I find it difficult to believe that, given the UN guidance, a leading UK housebuilder would be so blinded by the desire for short-term profits that they would be unwilling to take a lead in energy-efficient building, particularly when they have benefitted from public funds.
The additional cost of making an average new-build house a zero carbon house has been estimated at £5,000. That makes the cost of building 220 zero carbon houses West of Wells (if approval was to be given) just £1.1 million – approximately 0.2 per cent of Persimmon’s half-yearly profits.
The time has come for us to demand a commitment to the needs of the climate crisis that goes beyond words and encompasses effective action. Let’s ensure that new-builds in Wells, or for that matter anywhere, are zero carbon! Sarah Briton
Elizabeth Oakley, of Dursley, Gloucestershire, took this picture at a Christmas tree festival in Cirencester Abbey
Alan Bowkett, of Cinderford, Gloucestershire, took this photo at nearby Chepstow