UK homes a dirtier shade of green

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The Independent Online

Much-heralded plans to make British homes more green, to be unveiled by the Government tomorrow, will actually lower environmental standards.

The plans, which will be published at the same time as the Chancellor announces the biggest house-building programme in half a century, will lay down lower requirements for saving energy and water than government agencies enforce at present.

WWF-UK, the only environmental group on the body overseeing the plans, has resigned in protest. The group (formerly the World Wildlife Fund) says this is the first time it has ever felt forced to take such a course.

Britain's homes are responsible for a third of the country's emissions of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming, and the Government's plans for massive house building in the South-east threaten a water crisis in parts of the region.

Labour's last election manifesto promised that all new homes receiving government funding would have to follow a new "green code".

English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation - the two bodies that channel government funds into housing - insist that by April all new homes should save more than 25 per cent as much energy, and 40 per cent as much water, as laid down by building regulations.

But the new code will not make this compulsory. It will also scrap requirements to build houses near public transport, and to assess the ecological value of land before it is developed.

Yesterday Robert Napier, chief executive of WWF-UK, said: "It's madness. Instead of charting the way forward, the code is going backwards."