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Fossil fuels will no longer be used to heat new-build social homes, Welsh Gov announces

17 Aug 2021 4 minute read
Minister for Climate Change Julie James with a resident at the Rhiw Cefn Gwlad scheme in Bridgend

The use of fossil fuels to heat newly built social homes is coming to an end, the Welsh Government has announced.

The move, which comes into force on October 1st, is part of its new build standards, which have been published today.

It says it is committing to renewable energies and cutting edge technologies and that it also wants private developers to adopt the ‘Welsh Development Quality Requirements 2021 – Creating Beautiful Homes and Places’, by 2025.

Under the new standards, homes will need to reach the highest energy efficiency standards to reduce carbon use during build and when inhabited.

As well as space standards, developers will need to consider recycling and food waste storage under the new rules. Wales currently ranks number three on the world recycling leader board, but is striving for a zero waste future.

The Welsh Government plans to build 20,000 high quality, low carbon homes for rent over the next five years. It says social housing built with Welsh Government funding will “trailblaze” the new standards.

The new rules are part of the Welsh Government’s response to the climate emergency and commitment to drive down emissions to reach the ambitious ‘net zero carbon by 2050’ goal. In Wales, residential emissions make up 10% of all carbon emissions.

Beyond low carbon targets, the standards also require new properties to be ‘gigabit ready’, meaning fibre optic broadband or gigabit wireless technology is available, alongside a choice of internet service providers. Where this currently isn’t in place, infrastructure to enable future installation without disruption must be provided.

The new standards also favour good design and generous space so people live well within their homes. Modern methods of construction, such as the use of timber and factory built homes are also championed in the new guidelines.

‘Immediate action’ 

Minister for Climate Change Julie James said: “Our new ‘Creating Beautiful Homes and Places’ building standards show the bold and immediate action we are taking in responding to the climate emergency. How we live and heat our homes over the coming years will be pivotal in reaching our net zero goals.

“Curbing the worst impacts of climate change is a matter of social justice, but so is ensuring people have access to internet in their homes, and enough space to live well. These standards ensure all of these targets are met as they reflect our modern ways of living and changing lifestyle needs.

“Making use of innovative construction methods and design, I have every confidence the social housing sector will prove themselves trailblazers of the ambitious standards, as they deliver on our pledge to build 20,000 low carbon homes for rent over the next five years.”

Clarissa Corbisiero, Director of Policy and External Affairs and Deputy Chief Executive at Community Housing Cymru said: “These new standards for social homes put Wales at the forefront of measures to ensure housing can play its full role in tackling the climate emergency.

“They will mean lower energy bills for tenants, as well as increased space and access to high speed broadband. Ahead of this year’s Senedd elections, we were clear in our manifesto that these were all key priorities for housing associations in Wales, and we welcome this step towards creating homes that are fit for the future.

“To support housing associations to deliver on these commitments, Welsh Government must ensure that recent record investment in social housing continues and is focused on the new technologies and materials required to build new good quality affordable homes at pace and scale.

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j humphrys
j humphrys
2 years ago

My comment was about social housing. I scrapped it. Instead, I humbly ask the reader to think of the standard of social housing since, say, 1950.
Does this make you optimistic?

Last edited 2 years ago by j humphrys
Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
2 years ago
Reply to  j humphrys

I grew up in a 1950’s council house and now live in a 1970’s council flat that has been brought up to WHQS standards. There is absolutely no comparison between the two. My landlord, Powys, just finished the first Passivhaus standard development with solar panels and air source heat pumps. They are highly insulated timber framed using Welsh grown timber from a Welsh building firm.

Watching the private builders operate locally they have a long way to go to catch up. Wales and Scotland are already light years ahead of England and this just cements that advantage.

Dim problem
Dim problem
2 years ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

England (both councils and developers) would do well to learn from this example!

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
2 years ago
Reply to  j humphrys

A lot depends on which authority commissioned the developments, who designed them, and when they were built. Let’s not forget that social housing was a major election issue in the 50s, 60s and 70s, with governments of both hues each trying to outdo the other, and sometimes succeeding, such as when in the 1950s the Tories outbuilt Labour in providing social housing, and even though this was partially achieved through a lowering of standards, it was no less of an achievement. We’re talking here of in the region of 300,000 social house completions per year. We all know about the… Read more »

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