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‘A policy disaster’

High Court agrees to hear legal challenge over Gove’s green homes ‘roadblock’
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Drone view of new housing development being built in the UK

The High Court has given the green light for a judicial review of Michael Gove’s policy on green homes.

Campaigners say the barriers he is putting in the way of the next generation of housing are unlawful, blocking efforts to tackle the climate emergency and cost of living crisis.

New housing and efficiency

Good Law Project is supporting Rights Community Action to take Michael Gove’s levelling up department to the High Court.

The claimant, Rights Community Action, is challenging the written ministerial statement, published in December 2023, which limits councils setting higher energy efficiency standards for new housing schemes.

They argue that this statement is unlawful, because it cuts across the objectives of the Climate Change Act 2008.

The High Court will also decide whether the government has failed properly to apply its own Environment Act 2021, which requires policy to be assessed for its environmental impacts.

TV presenter and leading designer, Kevin McCloud, who is backing the legal challenge, has labelled the ministerial statement ‘a policy disaster’.

McCloud’s remarks came after 50 councils, businesses and charities joined the Town and Country Planning Association to brand Gove’s policy ‘unnecessarily draconian’.

‘This is a policy disaster. We know that councils in England want to plan for warm homes that are affordable to heat, but their plans are being crushed by Michael Gove. It’s homeowners of new properties who will pay the price again and again for this huge mistake.
‘Laws to protect the environment and to guard against exactly this sort of ministerial folly need to come into their own and force a change in the Government’s approach so that councils can plan for zero carbon places.’

Naomi Luhde-Thompson

A ‘headache’ for homeowners

A separate Good Law Project campaign has also seen more than 4,000 people email Gove’s office to raise their concerns about the policy.

The High Court has said that the hearing must take place “on the earliest available date after 20 May.

‘It is hard to believe, but it is true, that homes are being built today, perfectly lawfully, that are so poorly insulated that they will later need to be fitted with extra insulation. This will be costly, wasteful and an enormous headache for homeowners.

‘Worse still – Michael Gove has adopted a ministerial statement which has the effect of discouraging the building of homes to a sustainable standard. This will be beneficial in the short term for the huge housebuilders and developers that fund the Conservative Party – and terrible for everyone else. We think it’s time to say ‘enough’.’

Good Law Project’s executive director

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