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Wales announces end to use of fossil fuels in social homes

The use of fossil fuels to heat newly built social homes will end from October, as the Welsh government commits to using renewable energies in its new build standards.

Homes will need to reach the highest energy efficiency standards during build and when inhabited, with developers also needing to consider recycling and food waste storage under the new rules.

The Welsh government’s ambition is to roll out these requirements for private developers by 2025.

This follows the announcement of the Welsh government’s plans to build 20,000 high quality, low carbon homes for rent over the next five years.

These changes will be crucial to Wales’ response to the climate emergency, with residential emissions making up 10% of all carbon emissions in the country.

city with high rise buildings under blue sky during daytime

Minister for climate change, Julie James, said: ‘Our new ‘Creating Beautiful Homes and Places’ building standards show the bold and immediate action we are taking in responding to the climate emergency. How we live and heat our homes over the coming years will be pivotal in reaching our net zero goals.

‘Curbing the worst impacts of climate change is a matter of social justice, but so is ensuring people have access to internet in their homes, and enough space to live well. These standards ensure all of these targets are met as they reflect our modern ways of living and changing lifestyle needs.

‘Making use of innovative construction methods and design, I have every confidence the social housing sector will prove themselves trailblazers of the ambitious standards, as they deliver on our pledge to build 20,000 low carbon homes for rent over the next five years.’

The new building standards require properties to be ‘gigabit ready’, meaning fibre optic broadband or gigabit wireless technology is available, and also favour good design and generous space.

The new guidelines also promote the use of modern construction methods, such as the use of timber and factory-built homes.

Director of policy and external affairs and deputy chief executive at Community Housing Cymru, Clarissa Corbisiero, said: ‘These new standards for social homes put Wales at the forefront of measures to ensure housing can play its full role in tackling the climate emergency. They will mean lower energy bills for tenants, as well as increased space and access to high-speed broadband.

‘Ahead of this year’s Senedd elections, we were clear in our manifesto that these were all key priorities for housing associations in Wales, and we welcome this step towards creating homes that are fit for the future. To support housing associations to deliver on these commitments, Welsh Government must ensure that recent record investment in social housing continues and is focused on the new technologies and materials required to build new good quality affordable homes at pace and scale.’

Photo by Mike Erskine

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