Environment and People First
The impressive responses found in November’s Herald to encourage sustainable living here on Hayling, demonstrate that what is good for the environment is good for us too. Cycling, walking, reducing light and waste pollution, sharing surplus consumables, creating warm sociable ‘hubs’, systematic recycling in all forms are vital. We all need to adapt to survive.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised green belt protection whilst Secretary of State Michael Gove reaffirmed government’s 300,000 homes/year target. What has this to do with environmental sustainability? Cement production for concrete, fundamental for the UK’s house-building developments, produces 8% of global CO₂. Reducing the coal to produce it plus ‘capturing’ its energy emissions requires governments’ further infrastructure but it’s essential now for net 0% greenhouse carbon emissions over the next 10 years to prevent a 1.5°C temperature rise given the existing global impact of even a 1°C rise. Are our major UK house-builders reducing their developments’ carbon emissions?
During a recent interview (BBC Radio 4 4-11-22 17:00), Barratt’s CEO claimed their homes would be, by 2030, “net 0% carbon” meaning each achieves a balance between the use of energy in the home and that generated from that property’s use of renewable technology (such as solar panels, new heating, LEDs). Currently about 3.5 million tonnes of damaging emissions come from only 40% of homes in use. The CEO stated that: most emissions come from Barratt’s “supply chain and customers”; Barratts were trialling oil to replace diesel vehicle engines on 350 UK sites; they’d achieved “only” a 25% uptake of electric vehicles by employees and considering charging points at their offices; biodiversity is “hugely important” although carbon “off-setting is problematic” so Barratt tries to achieve it “on-site”, “we show-case the best of what can be done locally and the RSPB signs off. [examples are] Lawn and enclosed areas.” He also described Barratt’s trialling of new fabric and structures in Salford’s “Zed House” achieving 125% carbon reduction (energyhouse2.salford.ac.uk). The question is: why is Barratt not applying their own best practice to Hayling’s Sinah development?
Interviewers questioned why only a small fraction of Barratt homes nationally were fitted with solar panels last year, why heat pumps for all homes must wait until 2026, why shutters and better insulation materials are not standard. The CEO said that people want large south-facing windows but Barratt is committed to “net gain on every site going forward” and “it’s for government to create and publish policy”. Sadly our Government’s policy remains net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, so still fails to challenge developers to apply the obvious solutions to reduce present and future homes’ emissions. Instead environmentally vital local land is lost to concrete and building supply chains, including of course the developers’ profits, whilst homeowners whether privately or through taxes, will pay the cost of ‘too little, too late’.