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‘It isn’t easy being green’

Court date set in row over Michael Gove ‘blocking green homes’
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Drone view of new housing development being built in the UK

The government will be in the High Court next month (18 and 19 June) following a decision by Michael Gove’s department to limit the building of green homes.

Campaigners argue Gove’s department’s guidance undermines the ability of local authorities to build energy-efficient homes that tackle fuel poverty and the climate crisis. 

’A lame duck government’

Good Law Project is supporting Rights Community Action’s legal challenge to make it easier for local communities to demand higher standards from developers. That fight will reach the High Court on 18 June. 

They argue that a written ministerial statement, which limits councils setting higher energy efficiency standards for new housing schemes, is unlawful because it does not meet the objectives of the Climate Change Act 2008. 

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

‘This is a lame duck government that insists that what it’s doing is going to deliver new build homes that are zero carbon. It won’t. At best it will deliver an improvement on what is currently being built in terms of energy efficiency.

‘We want local government in England to be able to build real, performance measurable warm and energy efficient homes, not homes that are ‘zero carbon ready’ on paper. That’s why this case is so important for ensuring that the roughly 400,000 homes that get consented every year are actually built in the best way possible.’

Rights Community Action’s Chief Executive

‘Draconian’ measures

More than 4,000 people have now written to Michael Gove about the new rules and TV presenter Kevin McCloud, who is backing the campaign, said the guidance ‘isn’t up to scratch’.

Other industry experts have also come out against the changes. A group of over 50 councils, businesses and charities wrote to Gove in February describing the new measures as ‘unnecessarily draconian’ and warning they would have a ‘severe impact on the many local authorities who have invested significant sums to develop much more effective energy performance standards in local policy.’

‘It isn’t easy being green when the government is stopping local authorities from demanding higher standards on new homes. Councils want to build sustainable housing that will help tackle fuel poverty and the cost of living crisis. Michael Gove needs to help them, not block them – and we’re hoping the High Court will set him straight.’

Good Law Project’s legal manager

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