MPs not bothered by sustainability for newbuilds, survey shows
Published by Brian Church for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Environment
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More than half of 100 MPs ranked the environmental sustainability of building materials among their bottom two priorities for the development of new homes.
The survey was carried out by parliamentary research specialist Dods on behalf of timber industry group Wood for Good.
Altogether, 57 MPs expressed this view - raising the risk that sustainable construction is at risk of falling off the political agenda - while a third (36%) placed the energy efficiency of new properties as among their top two concerns.
The survey identified construction costs as MPs' top priority in delivering new homes, with 54% naming it as their first or second most important consideration. Just 13% saw the sustainability of building products and materials as a top two priority, a view that was particularly strong among Conservative MPs, 69% of whom placed it in their bottom two priorities.
The MPs, from all political parties and UK regions, were asked to rank the following six considerations in order of importance for the UK’s new housing development programme: Environmental sustainability of building materials; energy efficiency of new properties; availability of skilled labour for construction; speed of construction; cost of construction; quality and precision of finished building.
Dave Hopkins, head of external affairs at Wood for Good, said: "While the continued rise in housebuilding activity is of course welcome news, putting upfront costs ahead of long-term sustainability is surprisingly shortsighted, given the consensus around the UK’s need to cut carbon emissions and help families with rising energy bills.
"It’s particularly counter-intuitive that, while the benefits of timber construction appear to be widely appreciated, the majority of UK housing continues to be delivered through carbon intensive building methods. Low cost and high environmental performance needn’t be mutually exclusive."
The study found that 68% of Conservative respondents put cost of construction in their top two priorities, compared with only 46% of Labour MPs. Interestingly, Labour MPs also said that speed of construction was their lowest priority, an opinion not shared by their Conservative counterparts.