This is a copy of a document that stated a policy of the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The previous URL of this page was https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/improving-the-energy-efficiency-of-buildings-and-using-planning-to-protect-the-environment. Current policies can be found at the GOV.UK policies list.

Issue

In 2009 buildings accounted for about 43% of all the UK’s carbon emissions. Buildings and other developments can also damage the environment, through poor waste management or inefficient use of resources.

We need to reduce carbon emissions from buildings and make sure that planning policies help to protect and improve the natural and built environment.

Actions

We have included policies in the National Planning Policy Framework to explain how developments should be planned to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment.

To reduce carbon emissions from buildings, we:

  • are requiring local planning authorities to make sure that new developments are energy efficient
  • will require all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016 and are considering extending this to include all other buildings from 2019
  • have introduced the green deal to enable people to pay for home improvements over time using savings on their regular energy bills
  • have improved Energy Performance Certificates to make them more informative and user-friendly

We have introduced the Code for Sustainable Homes which provides a single national standard for the design and construction of sustainable new homes.

To help protect trees we have simplified the system for tree preservation orders.

We also work with the 9 aggregate working parties who provide technical advice about the supply and demand for aggregates such as sand, gravel and crushed rock.

Background

The Department for Communities and Local Government is responsible for developing town and country planning policy and rules that affect the environment.

Our policies on planning and the environment are set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, published in March 2012 following extensive public consultation. The framework is an important part of the government’s reforms to make the planning system less complex and more easy to understand, and to promote sustainable growth. It replaced and simplified a series of earlier planning policy statements and guidance.

Impact

It is the government’s policy to revoke existing regional strategies outside London. However, any final decision on this must take account of assessments of, and consultation on, the possible environmental effects. We are updating the earlier environmental reports and undertaking further consultation.

A written ministerial statement made by Baroness Hanham on 25 July 2012 sets out the background and explains why the reports are being updated.

Bills and legislation

All EU member states must follow the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. This requires that:

  • all properties (homes, commercial and public buildings) must have an Energy Performance Certificate when sold, built or rented
  • larger public buildings must display a Display Energy Certificate
  • all air-conditioning systems over 12kW must be regularly inspected by an Energy Assessor

The directive has been ‘recast’ and came into force on 9 January 2013. Current guidance on meeting the requirements of the directive is available in the series Energy Performance Certificates guidance.

Appendix 1: waste management

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

National planning policy on waste is set out in Planning Policy Statement 10: Planning for Sustainable Waste Management. We propose to replace this in 2013 with a new Waste Management Plan for England.

The main objective of government policy on waste is to protect human health and the environment by producing less waste and by using it as a resource where possible. Waste should be managed according to the ‘waste hierarchy’ of prevention, reuse, recycling and composting, and then using waste as a source of energy, with disposal (waste going to landfill) being a last resort.

The other objectives of our waste policy include:

  • planning authorities preparing planning strategies in which communities take more responsibility for their own waste
  • handling waste safely, without endangering human health and without harming the environment, and disposing of waste in one of the nearest appropriate places
  • assessing the suitability of waste sites, including the physical and environmental constraints on development and the cumulative effect of previous waste disposal facilities on the well-being of the local community

Appendix 2: climate change, flooding and coastal change

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

Section 10 of the National Planning Policy Framework explains how planning authorities should manage developments so they are less vulnerable and more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Where possible, authorities should prevent developments being built in areas at risk of flooding or coastal erosion. Where there needs to be development in these areas, it should be safe and not increase the risk to others.

Further advice on this approach is provided in the planning practice guidance supporting the National Planning Policy Framework.

Appendix 3: aggregate working parties

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

Aggregate working parties provide technical advice about the supply demand for aggregates (including sand, gravel and crushed rock) to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and mineral planning authorities.

They also undertake annual monitoring of aggregates production, by type and use, and the levels of permitted reserves. This allows levels of consumption for their local area to be calculated making allowances for supplies of marine-dredged aggregates, recycled materials and other alternatives, and imports from other areas. The results of these surveys are compared with estimates of permitted reserves of aggregates to help ascertain whether there is a surplus or shortfall without further planning permissions being granted for mineral working.

The aggregate working parties publish annual monitoring reports that show the balance of the supply of aggregates in terms of landbanks. The reports allow industry and mineral planning authorities to agree on the basic facts of aggregates supply, particularly about reserves and landbanks. They provide the only regular comprehensive statistics on minerals planning and often the most detailed information on production and the end uses of minerals. They also provide information on recycling activities, progress on minerals development plans and how landbank requirements are dealt with in each region.

Every 4th year the aggregate working parties contribute to an expanded aggregate minerals survey, including data on the transportation of aggregates. The survey allow levels of consumption of and demand for aggregates by region to be assessed.

There are 9 aggregate working parties in England, covering:

  • East of England
  • East Midlands
  • London
  • North East
  • North West
  • South East
  • South West
  • West Midlands
  • Yorkshire and the Humber

Each aggregate working party is chaired by a county planning officer or equivalent, and draws members from:

Aggregate working party secretariat

The aggregate working party secretariat operates under contracts between the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the mineral planning authorities. Contact details are below.

East of England Aggregates Working Party

Susan Marsh
Central Bedfordshire Council
Priory House
Chicksands
Bedfordshire
SG17 5TQ

Tel: 0300 3006032 susan.marsh@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

East Midlands Aggregates Working Party

Ian Thomas
National Stone Centre
Porter Lane
Wirksworth
Derbyshire
DE4 4LS

Tel: 01629 824 844 ian@nationalstonecentre.org.uk

London Aggregates Working Party

Chris Waite
22 Sittingbourne Road
Maidstone
Kent
ME14 5LW

Tel: 01622 764 335 chriswaiteplanning@blueyonder.co.uk

North East Aggregates Working Party

Kevin Tipple
Planning Strategy Service
Northumberland County Council
Place Group
County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland
NE61 2EF

Tel: 01670 533 988 kevin.tipple@northumberland.gov.uk

North West Aggregates Working Party

Natalie Durney-Knight
Cheshire Shared Service
Minerals and Waste Spatial Planning Manager
Minerals and Waste Planning Unit
Cheshire West and Chester Council
Backford Hall
Backford
Chester
CH1 6EA

Tel: 01244 973 117 natalie.durney-knight@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

South East of England Aggregates Working Party

Chris Waite
22 Sittingbourne Road
Maidstone
Kent
ME14 5LW

Tel: 01622 764 335 chriswaiteplanning@blueyonder.co.uk

South West Aggregates Working Party

Phil Hale
Minerals Waste and Planning
Abbey Farm
Eastermead Lane
Banwell
North Somerset
BS29 6PD

Tel: 01934 820 451 philip@mwp.eclipse.co.uk

West Midlands Aggregates Working Party

Ian Stone
National Stone Centre
Porter Lane
Wirkworth
Derbyshire
DE4 4LS

Tel: 01629 824 844 ian@nationalstonecentre.org.uk

Yorkshire and the Humber Aggregates Working Party

Natalie Durney-Knight
Cheshire West and Chester Council
Backford Hall
Backford
Chester
CH1 6EA

Tel: 01244 973 117 natalie.durney-knight@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

Appendix 4: tree preservation orders

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

Trees make places more attractive, provide valuable habitats for wildlife, improve the air we breathe and help to conserve energy. Sometimes they need long-term protection from harm.

Local planning authorities have wide powers to make tree preservation orders to protect trees of significant value to communities. These written orders, in general, make it an offence to prune, fell, damage or destroy the trees they cover without local planning authority consent.

Trees in conservation areas have special protection. If a tree in a conservation area is not already protected by a tree preservation order, 6 weeks’ notice of proposed work to that tree should normally be given to the local planning authority.

The tree preservation order system is governed by the Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012. New planning guidance on the tree preservation order system and tree protection in conservation areas was issued on 6 March 2014.

If you would like to:

  • check whether a tree is protected
  • ask for a tree preservation order to be made
  • apply for consent for work to a tree protected by a tree preservation order
  • give notice of work to a tree in a conservation area

please contact the local planning authority.

Appendix 5: National Planning Policy Framework and the environment

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The National Planning Policy framework includes policies on:

  • protecting green belts, sites of special scientific interest and sites with other environmental protections
  • protecting valued landscapes, trees and woodlands
  • protecting open space and creating a new Local Green Space designation
  • helping to improve biodiversity
  • using natural resources prudently
  • reducing pollution
  • reducing the environment impact of extracting minerals and of managing waste
  • locating new developments away from areas at risk of flooding where possible, and making sure that developments in areas at risk of flooding are safe for their lifetime
  • managing development in coastal areas

The Framework does not contain specific waste policies. We intend to publish national waste planning policy (which is currently set out in Planning Policy Statement 10) as part of the proposed Waste Management Plan for England

Appendix 6: energy performance of buildings

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

40% of the UK’s energy consumption and carbon emissions come from the way our buildings are lit, heated and used. Even comparatively small changes in energy performance and the way we use each building will have a significant effect in reducing total energy consumption.

Energy Performance Certificates

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is responsible for making sure buildings in the UK meet the standards required by the EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

The Directive requires that:

  • all properties (homes, commercial and public buildings) must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) when sold, built or rented
  • larger public buildings over 500m² must display a Display Energy Certificate (DEC)
  • all air-conditioning systems over 12kW must be regularly inspected by an Energy Assessor

EPCs are produced by accredited energy assessors using standard methods and assumptions about energy usage. This means that the energy efficiency of one building can easily be compared with another building of the same type. This allows prospective buyers, tenants, owners, occupiers and purchasers to see information on the energy efficiency and carbon emissions from their building so they can consider energy efficiency and fuel costs as part of their investment.

An EPC includes a recommendation report that lists cost-effective and other measures to improve the building’s energy rating.

DCLG has made it easier for consumers to save money on their fuel bills by:

  • developing an EPC Adviser tool to help people assess how much money they can save and carbon they can reduce by making their homes more energy efficient
  • requiring domestic energy assessors to increase their skills so that they can provide a more effective service
  • improving the training for domestic energy assessors to help them provide an effective service
  • opening up access to the EPC register of more than 11 million domestic EPCs by providing online access to individual EPCs and making all EPC data held on the register publicly available

New-look EPC

Display Energy Certificates (DECs)

Buildings must display a DEC if:

  • they have a total useful floor area of more than 500m²
  • they are occupied or part occupied by public authorities

Where a building is partly occupied by a public authority, the authority is responsible for displaying a DEC and having a valid advisory report.

Other private organisations occupying the building, irrespective of the size they occupy, do not need to display a DEC.

DECs for buildings:

  • larger than 1,000m² must be renewed every 12 months
  • between 500m² and 1,000m² must be renewed every 10 years

You can see other related publications about EPCs and DECs in the ‘latest’ tab.

Energy assessor accreditation schemes

DCLG is responsible for approving energy assessor accreditation schemes in England and Wales. Energy assessors must be suitably qualified and be a member of a DCLG-approved accreditation scheme relevant to the work they do.

The accreditation schemes cover:

  • EPCs for existing dwellings
  • EPCs for new dwellings
  • EPCs for non-dwellings (commercial buildings)
  • DECs
  • air conditioning inspection reports

The DCLG-approved accreditation schemes are listed below, showing the type of energy assessor accreditation they cover.

Schemes covering all types of energy assessor
Schemes covering all types except air conditioning inspection reports
Schemes covering all types except EPCs for existing dwellings
Schemes covering air conditioning inspection reports only

Appendix 7: code for sustainable homes

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

This policy was withdrawn on 27 March 2015.

Following the technical housing standards review, the government has issued a written ministerial statement withdrawing the code for sustainable homes, aside from the management of legacy cases.

Legacy cases are:

  • those where residential developments are legally contracted to apply a code policy (e.g. affordable housing funded through the National Affordable Housing Programme 2015 to 2018, or earlier programme)
  • where planning permission has been granted subject to a condition stipulating discharge of a code level, and developers are not appealing the condition nor seeking to have it removed or varied

In these instances only it is possible to continue to register code cases and conduct code assessments.

Details of the new approach to the setting of technical housing standards in England were announced on 27 March 2015 and a new set of streamlined national technical standards were published. The planning [written ministerial statement] was also published along with the announcement, which outlined the government’s policy on the application of technical housing standards for plan making and decision-taking.

Use the information below for code legacy cases only

Background

The code for sustainable homes is the national standard for the sustainable design and construction of new homes. It aims to reduce carbon emissions and promote higher standards of sustainable design above the current minimum standards set out by the building regulations.

The code provides 9 measures of sustainable design:

  • energy/CO2
  • water
  • materials
  • surface water runoff (flooding and flood prevention)
  • waste
  • pollution
  • health and well-being
  • management
  • ecology

It uses a 1 to 6 star system to rate the overall sustainability performance of a new home against these 9 categories.

The code is voluntary, and we do not intend to make it mandatory. It is not a set of regulations and should not be confused with zero carbon policy or the 2016 zero carbon target.

The only circumstances where the code can be enforced are where:

  • local councils require developers to comply with the code by including a requirement in their planning policy
  • affordable housing is funded by the Homes and Community Agency that requires homes to be built to code level 3
  • the level 3 energy standard is now incorporated in the building regulations

The code applies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Within England it replaces the EcoHomes scheme, developed by the Building Research Establishment.

The code for sustainable homes: technical guide sets out the requirements of the latest version of the code, and how a code assessment is reached.

The code for sustainable homes: latest official statistics shows the number of homes that have been certified to the standards set out in the code’s technical guide.

The cost of building to the code for sustainable homes: updated cost review sets out the changing costs of code levels in comparison with previous years.

The code for sustainable homes: case studies provide examples of new homes that have built using the code. They show how the homes have been designed, planned and built and what they are like to live in.

On 20 August 2013, the government published the housing standards review consultation, seeking views on the recent review of building regulations and housing standards including the code for sustainable homes.

The code for sustainable homes uses the water efficiency calculator for new dwellings (PDF 220 KB) as the assessment methodology for WAT1. The water calculator tool version rev 02(Excel 4.2 MB) is available to download and use.

See also previous technical guide versions of the code for sustainable homes.