Builders warn of £20,000 a home green target cost

HOUSEBUILDERS have warned that government targets to reduce carbon output in new homes could cost developers up to £20,000 per property, adding to the pressure on the already struggling industry.

The legislation, which is likely to be introduced by Scottish ministers in 2013, would force construction firms to cut their carbon output on each new home by 60 per cent, compared to 2007 levels.

Industry bodies initially estimated the cost at around 8,000 but fresh calculations put the financial burden at two and a half times this figure during a period when experts warn the sector is sailing perilously close to a double-dip.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Scotland on Sunday has learned that industry body Homes for Scotland is set to lobby for an alternative system whereby developers pay a tax on each new house built, which would then be used to upgrade existing housing stock.

Writing in its manifesto ahead of the Holyrood elections in May, the organisation is expected to suggest a levy of 1,500 for each new home built, which would be used to improve the carbon efficiency of older homes with poor fitting windows and little insulation in the walls and roofs.

The proposal has been backed by construction firms who argue older properties are far less energy efficient than new homes and should, therefore, be forced to upgrade ahead of efficient new-builds.

"The amount of green technology we will have to put into our homes is unbelievable," said Mairi Mickel, head of corporate communications for Glasgow-based housebuilder Mactaggart and Mickel.

Mickel warned that the costs associated with the new targets cannot be passed on to the consumer in the current housing market.

Instead it will hit the pockets of cash-strapped construction companies, which have already suffered a major blow during the recession.

"It's not that we don't want to make our homes sustainable, we do. But why does all this money need to be invested in the new stock when it is already sustainable?" she said.

Mickel claimed the new homes industry was an "easy target" for the Scottish Government.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We could put the money into a pot which could be distributed to improve energy efficiencies of old buildings," she said. "That would have a far greater effect on carbon output."

The warning comes just days after construction giant Rok slumped into administration, with the loss of 270 jobs in Scotland.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We do not support a tax on new homes. Energy use in buildings makes up over 40 per cent of Scotland's emissions and improving standards for new homes will save money on fuel bills and cut emissions.

"Scotland's energy standards lead the UK and, with revised standards introduced last month, new homes will be among the greenest in Europe. We are also improving our existing housing stock."