No com­mit­ment to zero car­bon homes

Western Daily Press - - Opinion -

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

Wells

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

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