Scotland business

Homes for Scotland urges delay on 'greener' building plans

Image caption Homes for Scotland said the proposals would add to building costs for "negligible benefit"

Scottish builders have urged ministers not to introduce plans to make new buildings even more energy efficient until an expert panel has examined the issue.

A consultation is to be launched next month on proposals to reduce carbon emissions for new homes by about 75%, compared to building standards in 1990.

Ministers said the move would cut fuel bills for families and businesses.

But Homes for Scotland said it could add to costs for "negligible benefit".

The Scottish government said research showed new homes could reduce their carbon emissions by about a further 20% and new commercial buildings by up to 40% beyond current standards.

The consultation will seek views on the proposed new levels for emissions reduction and the way to deliver the standards.

The government wants to introduce the standards at the beginning of 2014.

The move follows the 2007 Sullivan Report on a low carbon building standards strategy for Scotland.

Announcing the consultation, Planning Minister Derek Mackay said he intended to reconvene the Sullivan panel next year, while recognising that Scotland was "currently in different economic circumstances".

Mr Mackay commented: "The Scottish government is committed to reducing Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions and building standards have a vital role to play in this.

"But in these challenging economic times, it is important to strike a balance between making our buildings greener and increasing the burden on the construction industry.

"These proposals maintain the Scottish government's commitment to ambitious emissions reductions, but will limit the impact on both industry and on the cost of new homes at this time."

But industry body Homes for Scotland said the proposed changes to building standards could "deepen Scotland's housing crisis".

The body claimed that while housing accounted for 27% of the UK's carbon emissions, new homes made up only 0.63% of Scotland's total annual housing stock - and had already cut emissions by 70% since 1990.

Chief executive Philip Hogg said: "We note Mr Mackay's words about the importance of 'striking a balance' between the green agenda and the burden on industry, and therefore keenly await further detail.

"Having already proposed a solution that could deliver significantly greater carbon reduction much more cost-effectively, we hope this is given due consideration.

Mr Hogg added: "However, whilst we also welcome the reconvening of the Sullivan panel to review other options for achieving emission reductions given the vast change from the operating context of 2007, we would urge the Scottish government to withhold making any changes until the expert panel reports its findings."

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