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Fossil fuels ban is key milestone in road to decarbonisation

The housing sector in Wales is looking forward to the end of this working week – not because it signals the start of the weekend, but because it signals the start of something much bigger. From Friday, October 1, new social homes will no longer be heated by fossil fuels.

It’s part of a wider suite of measures to assure the quality of housing going forward, that homes should use modern methods of construction, be climate considerate at every stage of development and, crucially, ensure that residents can easily play their part in being environmentally friendly, too.

That’s the commitment from Welsh Government, but in truth it’s just the latest step in housing’s journey to help address the climate crisis. It does, however, show that progress can be, and is being, made.

The fossil fuels pledge, says Welsh Government, is part of a commitment to build 20,000 high quality, low carbon homes for rent over the next Senedd term and that “social housing built with Welsh Government funding will ‘trailblaze’ the new standards”.

But we also know that picking an arbitrary day to change things, does not change the bigger picture overnight. This pledge is one part of a multi-faceted approach, and it has to be multifaceted because the challenge we face is still huge. We know that homes account for around 15% of carbon emissions, we know that our decarbonisation programmes are ambitious and that the Welsh Government’s ambition to decarbonise existing social housing by 2030 are equally so.

We also know that supply chains are stretched, the costs of materials are increasing and that adds more pressure onto associations that are committed to delivering homes for Wales.

The sector remains focused on the 20,000 homes target, but to respond to the true scale of the climate crisis, we will need to see further significant investment to increase the energy efficiency of existing social housing over the next ten years. Certainty is key for all that will play a part in reaching these ambitions. The Welsh Government’s low carbon plan provides an important upcoming milestone to provide certainty around the route map and financing that will underpin this important work and enable associations to scale up their activity, creating jobs and opportunities in local communities.

The 1st of October, therefore, is a key milestone towards our decarbonisation destination.

Clarissa Corbisiero is deputy chief executive of Community Housing Cymru


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