North East housing 'lagging behind' on net zero targets
North East housing is ‘lagging behind’ the Government’s net zero by 2050 targets, a panel has heard.
The North of Tyne Combined Authority was told that housing in the North East including Northumberland and Newcastle, contributed to 34% of the emissions in the combined authority area. This is in stark contrast to the national average of 20%.
Callum Smith, a housing advisor for the authority, explained that among other contributing factors, the age of houses across the North East makes them colder and less heat efficient.
Over 50% of properties across the area were built before 1965 and significant pockets of properties before 1919.
70% of homes in the North East have an Energy Performance Certificate rating of D, a band lower than band C, which indicates “a good benchmark of good practice.”
Newcastle University’s Professor of Environment and Planning, Simin Davoudi claimed that there are several other issues that contribute to the region’s poor performance.
Private landlords are reluctant to invest in energy efficiency measures on their rental properties as any potential financial savings will benefit tenants not landlords.
Professor Davoudi also stated that energy efficiency measures are not being implemented by homeowners because of issues like “affordability, limited advice, lack of trust in the retrofitting companies and disruption to their daily lives”.
There continue to be problems with new-builds too. According to Professor Davoudi although “there are standards in place already…they are not adequate in achieving low carbon housing. ”
Davoudi also states that companies responsible for new build projects do not “always comply” with the regulations and “they are sometimes being interpreted differently by different local authorities.”
She states that authorities and building regulators need “adequate resources which obviously are now hard to come by giving the massive cuts to their budget. ”
In addition, the fact that house prices in the north are lower than the south means that local authorities have little bargaining power over developers to make them comply with energy efficiency standards. Professor Davoudi claimed that if local authorities did exert pressure “developers would complain about the buyability of their development.”
Davoudi explained that in the long term “as long as we are dependent on private developers to build new homes we will find it very difficult to deliver houses that are fit for the future.”