Speaking at a Constructing Excellence Wales event in Cardiff, the Minister announced that increased building standards for new homes will be coming into force in Wales from 2013. The new standards will require a 55% improvement in building standards from a 2006 baseline.
This could mean that Wales is three years ahead of England in introducing standards that help to deliver zero carbon building.
The Minister wanted to clarify the Welsh Assembly Government’s intentions to raise standards for new housing following the recent publication of the UK Zero Carbon Hub report, which recommends on-site targets for zero carbon.
The Minister said:
“The Welsh Assembly Government participated in the discussions that led to the Hub report and it contains much from which we in Wales can benefit. However it is fundamentally a report for the UK Government on how zero carbon housing in England can be achieved.
“The report’s conclusions are broadly the same as our proposed changes to Welsh Building Regulations which I announced last year, and which we plan to consult on in 2012.
“The big difference is one of timing. We plan to implement the changes from 2013, which is 3 years ahead of what is recommended for England.
“The 2013 introduction reflects my belief that we must urgently address the additional burden of new build on our environment.”
The Minister acknowledged that concerns had been raised around house building in Wales moving ahead of England, however she felt that this offered Welsh businesses a real opportunity to get ahead.
The Minister said:
“Whilst we need to consider a range of impacts , I believe that introducing the changes in 2013 will present a raft of opportunity for Welsh businesses and will allow them to develop the skills, expertise and experience that will stand them in good stead once the changes come into force in England.
“Importantly the 2013 introduction is also great news for our environment and our efforts to reduce our carbon emissions and will ensure that we are on course to meet the targets set out in our Climate Change Strategy.”
The Minister confirmed that next year’s consultation would include more detail on how zero carbon changes would work in practice.