Week commencing 19 November 2018

In today's bulletin

• Inquiry into energy efficiency of buildings announced
• Calls for more affordable housing funding

• Major economic changes driving rail growth
• Net-zero carbon emissions possible by 2050

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Inquiry into energy efficiency of buildings announced

The Government’s approach to driving energy efficiency improvements for buildings will be reviewed in an inquiry launched by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee on 19 November.
The review will explore whether homeowners and businesses have been adequately incentivised to reduce carbon emissions, and how the processes around improving energy efficiency in fuel-poor homes can be improved. Around 9,000 energy efficiency measures are installed weekly by the Government, which is short of the National Infrastructure Commission’s recommended target of 21,000 a week by 2020.

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Calls for more funding for affordable housing

The number of affordable homes delivered in England increased in 2017-18 compared with the previous year, but there was a year-on-year decline in homes built for social rent, according to figures released on 22 November by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) welcomed the headline increase but Melanie Rees, head of policy and external affairs, called for greater support from Government for “genuinely affordable homes” and argued that “we still have a long way to go” to tackle the housing crisis.

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Housing associations key to prosperous communities

Housing associations have a key role to play in driving forward social and economic change in communities, an interim report published last week by the Great Places Commission said. The report argued that housing associations can work collaboratively with anchor institutions and local and national government to create prosperous and socially inclusive communities.
The report concluded that this could be achieved through the provision of affordable homes and essential community infrastructure, and the creation of local employment opportunities including apprenticeships and training.

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Planning deregulation jeopardises health and wellbeing of communities

Planning deregulation undermines the potential to improve lives, according to a new report commissioned by the Town and Country Planning Association. Launched on 20 November, the Raynsford review of planning called on the Government to immediately restrict permitted development, which it claims allows the conversion of commercial buildings into residential units without safeguarding quality.
The review also found that continued reform to planning regulations has led to councils forming uncoordinated development plans that ignore sub-regional environmental impacts, such as flooding and coastal erosion.

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‘Unsustainable’ villages overlooked for affordable homes

The local planning process is deepening the rural housing crisis by depriving villages of much-needed affordable housing, according to a new report by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).
Published on 19 November, Sustainable Villages – making rural communities fit for the future claimed that over 2,000 villages were deemed “unsustainable” and that this highly restricted housing delivery in those communities. The report also called for planning criteria to be updated for the 21st century to tackle the housing issues facing authorities in rural areas.

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Major economic changes driving rail growth

Shifting living and working patterns over the past 25 years have led to soaring demand for rail travel, a report by the Independent Transport Commission has found. Released on 19 November, Wider factors affecting long-term growth in rail travel demonstrated that more people working in offices and fewer in manufacturing is part of a wider economic change that has caused the number of rail journeys to double since the 1990s.
Previously, accelerated investment following privatisation had been routinely cited as the main reason for increasing demand, but the report concluded that more macro factors have also had a significant impact.

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Northern transport spending stalls

Transport spending in the North remains significantly lower than in London, signalling the continuation of a decade-long regional disparity in the sector’s public expenditure, a review by the Institute for Public Policy Research has shown.
Published 20 November, the think-tank’s latest analysis concluded that the Northern region’s increase in public spending was less than half the size of that found in London, amounting to £146 per head compared with £326 in the capital. Yorkshire and Humber were the worst hit. The findings came almost five years after the Government announced its Northern Powerhouse agenda, aimed at investing in transport infrastructure to boost the Northern economies.

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Energy and Environment

Net-zero carbon emissions possible by 2050

Full decarbonisation is technically feasible using existing technologies and could be achieved in developed countries by 2050, a new report featuring contributions from over 200 industry experts has claimed.
Commissioned by the Energy Transitions Commission, Mission Possible: Reaching net-zero carbon emissions from harder-to-abate sectors by mid-century, analysed the potential for decarbonising industries such as trucking, shipping and aviation. The report found that, by making better use of materials and limiting demand for carbon-intensive modes of transport, the total cost of achieving this major milestone could be less than 0.5 per cent of GDP.

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Hydrogen can be key to decarbonisation

A new report by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has called on the Government to commit to developing a low-carbon heat strategy within the next three years by embracing the use of hydrogen.
Released on 22 November, the Hydrogen in a low-carbon economy report argued that hydrogen is a credible option for the future if combined with greater energy efficiency, cheap low-carbon power generation, electrified transport and new hybrid heat pump systems. The CCC’s report echoed the UK’s first ever National Infrastructure Assessment, which highlighted the need for trials of hydrogen alongside greater research into heat pumps.

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Unlock potential of flexible and renewable power

An electricity system generating 50 per cent of its energy from wind and solar could support the national grid even during extreme “lulls” during the winter months, according to a new report. GB Power Transition: Get Smart was commissioned by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) and undertaken by New Resource Partners.
Published on 22 November, the report argued that flexible and renewable power technologies should be supported by Government, noting that the cost of the system would be no higher than expanding gas-fired power stations.

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Other News

Manufacturing output recovers from slow October

Manufacturing activity picked up in the three months to November despite a dip in total orders in October, the latest CBI Industrial Trends Survey has found. Growth was driven by increased output in key sub-sectors, including food, drink & tobacco, motor vehicles & transport equipment, and chemicals.
The CBI predicts that UK manufacturers will continue to receive a boost from global economic expansion and the lower sterling exchange rate, despite overall economic growth being dampened by low household incomes and Brexit uncertainty.

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