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August 21, 2007

Builders say no to green Merton Rule

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by Brian Turner

Builders say no to green Merton Rule

Builders and property development groups are pressuring the government to abolish the Merton Rule.

Named after the council that initiated it, the Merton Rule requires builders to find ways to find 10% of the property’s energy from renewable sources.

The aim is to reduce carbon emissions, while additionally giving home owners the ability to utilise better environmental practices.

While the Merton Rule is currently used only voluntarily and only among some councils, the government’s DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) had considered expanding it nationally.

Now any possible framework for national implementation is under threat as building industry bodies lobby against it being applied further.

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has asked for any green policies for the industry to be phased in gradually rather than suddenly, while the British Property Federation (BPF) is more scathing and rejects the idea completely.

The only industry body that so far supports the Merton Rule is the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), which sees environmentally friendlier as a challenge builders and developers should face up to.

While many consumers would probably support the idea in principle, the main concern for the building industry is the required increase in price for properties applying the Merton Rule. This is not least because adding a small wind turbine and/or solar heating can add thousands to a property.

In the current market conditions, where UK property is reported by a number of economic commentators are over-priced and facing a slowdown at best, anything that arbitrary adds costs to builders costs and therefore the selling price on homes could work against practical realities.

When many first time buyers are having problems enough getting onto the property ladder, the last thing many of these will be actively looking for is for the government to support initiatives that raises new build property prices higher.

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