New Clause 20 - Building regulations: microgeneration

Part of Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:00 pm ar 9 Chwefror 2006.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Andrew Stunell Andrew Stunell Shadow Chief Whip (Commons), Liberal Democrat Chief Whip 4:00, 9 Chwefror 2006

I believe that the new clause should be added to the Bill. It would send a signal, but the hon. Member for Southampton, Test should not have too high an expectation of what it would achieve. I say that because I added two items to paragraph 12 in my Act—I am turning into a bit of a self-promoter in the debates on this Bill. I added two bits to the 1984 building regulations, and I was told that it was the first time that the primary legislation in the Building Act 1984 had been amended at all since 1984. Another change would not be a bad thing.

I added two-way meters and recycling to the themes on which it would be competent to have building regulations. It should be noted that the list to which the new clause would be added is a permissive—or even weaker than that—illustrative list. It certainly does not in any way bind anybody to doing anything. The new clause is worthy and worth while, but we should not get too excited about what it would achieve.

In the context of a Bill that is trying to promote microgeneration and ensure that things happen, the new clause is a useful but rather small part of the jigsaw. Each year, the building regulations apply to only about 1 per cent. of the building stock, yet the building stock contributes a significant fraction of the   carbon output of the United Kingdom. Only 1 per cent. of it is caught by building regulations, and that is the 1 per cent. that is built each year.

It would be good to hear the Minister say that he will urge colleagues to apply other unused parts of the present building regulations. They would apply when alterations and renewals of buildings are done and when buildings are purchased or changes of occupancy take place. In that way, we would be able to speed up the necessary changes much more quickly.

Microgeneration is, in essence, a heating system. A million central heating boilers are replaced each year in this country. The huge majority of them are not in new premises but in old premises, and they are not in any way caught by the present regulations. The hon. Gentleman referred repeatedly to the code of sustainable buildings, but it is not that—it is the code of sustainable housing. It sets standards that are lamentably below the high levels that one might have expected from, for instance, the Building Research Establishment’s eco-homes standard.

The statement by the ODPM that the Bill is in some way a substitute for proper regulation should not be accepted. This is an opportunity for the Minister to blow away the fog that is being created by the ODPM and to say that he accepts the urgency of making things happen in this area, that he accepts the new clause, and, more than that, that he will go back to his desk and write a stern memo to the ODPM to get a move on with sustainability.