Insulate our homes: save money and cut fuel poverty

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by Carl Wright

Fuel poverty would effectively be ended for poorer families living in social housing developments if proposals published today from the Canterbury Climate Action Partnership (CCAP) are adopted by Canterbury City Council. CCAP are calling on CCC to use the Passivhaus standard in all future new and refurbished developments passing through the Planning and Building Regulation processes. This would make all homes much cheaper to run for everyone and would remove much financial strain from those on low incomes and benefits. 

Passivhaus is an internationally recognised standard that aims to achieve zero carbon in use by super insulating buildings and eliminating draughts. As well as taking families out of fuel poverty, building to this standard will save money on our energy bills and increase the value of our property. Norwich City Council has recently been awarded the prestigious Stirling Prize for Architecture for their Passivhaus housing project at Goldsmith Street in Norwich, showing that this standard is very achievable in council, as well as private developments.

These recommendations are being made in a CCAP policy paper entitled “Proposals for Zero Carbon New and Retrofitted Buildings in Canterbury” and is part of a set of policy papers being presented to CCC ahead of the forthcoming review of the Local Plan, being discussed at the covid-19 Emergency Council meeting tonight [25 June]. At this meeting it is anticipated that councillors will launch the public consultation on the Local Plan Review and CCAP want Climate Action, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and lessons learnt from the covid-19 crisis to be major drivers for change in the way the Council prepares the new Local Plan. 

CCAP’s overarching policy paper on the Local Plan, entitled “A New Approach to the Local Plan for Canterbury District : A Vision for Sustainable Planning by 2030” aims to draw a link between covid-19 recovery and the adoption of green policies that address the Climate Emergency. The paper argues that the new Local Plan must be environment, climate and people led, rather than development lead which is the status quo. CCAP are also calling for the new Local Plan to encourage economic development that creates green jobs and investments to help both the climate and covid-19 recovery. 

Commenting on the CCAP policy paper, Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkins, diocesan bishop of Canterbury and CCAP Patron said it offers “a vision that I believe can and should set the standards locally and indeed more widely” and “we cannot return to how things were when we restart, if we want to have a sustainable future.”

Tackling air pollution in our District must also be a major driver for change. Here CCAP is pressing the council to adopt low emissions zones, as have been set up in many cities in the UK and around the world. Replacing the priority of car travel with an emphasis on walking and cycling will not only reduce air pollution but will also add greatly to our health. We have all tasted clean, fresh air over the past few months and don’t want a return to business as usual post lockdown. CCAP argues that cycle routes can also be amazing green corridors that link areas of ecological restoration and community spaces. These and many other ideas for sustainable travel are contained in an associated policy paper by CCAP’s partner organisation, the Alliance for Sustainable Transport (CAST), entitled “The New Transport Strategy for Canterbury : A Vision for 2030 and How to Travel There”. 

Many of us have also appreciated working from home over the past few months, avoiding the commute to work and driving freely around our ring road. CCAP proposes that we build on this enthusiasm by rethinking how businesses and homes are located to encourage more home working in the future. 

CCAP is a partnership of civil society, faith, youth and residents groups, business, our universities and local government. More information can be found on their website www.ccap.org.uk together with copies of all the policy papers mentioned.

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