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Will planning departments still enforce tough emission targets after Part L?

07 Nov 2019


In this series of articles, we aim to answer some of your questions about the upcoming changes to Approved Documents L and F, SAP methodology and the Future Homes Standard.

Current proposals suggest these regulations will be coming into force in England from October 2020. Contact us with your own questions about the regulation changes, or to discuss our training seminars and workshops.


Will planning departments still enforce tougher emission targets following the regs change?

This is a concern for developers which is only going to become more of a worry when target emissions are slashed. There will be a decision on this, but it’s not yet been confirmed.

Under the current system, local planning departments have the power to impose energy efficiency targets on new applications which exceed current building regulations.

Some authorities are happy with the energy efficiency requirements of AD L as it stands, but other councils will ask developers to achieve, for example, a 10% additional cut in emissions across a development or potentially a 15% offset using renewable technology.

The trend is for more urban areas to set tougher restrictions… the toughest by far is the GLA in London which insists on at least a 35% reduction over Part L CO2 targets through onsite improvements, plus a payment into a carbon offset fund to effectively create zero carbon developments.

Many construction companies see these planning conditions as a postcode lottery and would rather see consistency across the country.

Meanwhile, local councils enforce these additional targets because they don’t believe the Government is moving fast enough to reduce carbon emissions from new buildings.

Without getting too technical, this entire debate starts with the Planning and Energy Act 2008.

This legislation gives local planning authorities the power to request new builds meet the ENE01 target under the now defunct Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4. In other words, councils can ask for a reduction of up to 19% in carbon emissions over the AD L 2013 Target Emission Rate.

But we know the new AD L target will be at least 20% stricter than current requirements, so is it appropriate for local authorities to continue asking for extra improvements on top?

There is currently a public consultation open to discuss this very question. The Government admits the current system is confusing and inconsistent and has put a few options on the table.

Option 1 – Do nothing. Let councils keep their right to set a higher target if they wish.

Option 2 – Stop councils from setting tougher targets when the Future Homes Standard is launched in 2025.

Option 3 – Stop councils from setting tougher targets when AD L is amended next year.

We won’t know the Government’s decision until Spring at the earliest and they’ve given no indication about a preferred way forward so – for the time being – this is one question we can’t answer.

If you would like to have your say, this is covered in the Future Homes Standard public consultation which is open until February 7th. (External link –

Look out for future updates on this topic, as we’ll be publishing more details as soon as we know ourselves.

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