Decentralisation and differing regulations across the UK

Union flag

It’s looking likely that the various nations comprising the UK will each have different regulatory guidance and targets.

Consultations for proposed 2013 changes have already taken place for England and separately for Wales (who now are responsible for their own regulations separate to England) and a Scottish Building Standards 2013 review is currently underway (due to finish April 15th 2013). Actual introduction of the various proposals will likely be staggered over late 2013 through to early 2015. Northern Ireland standards are lagging a couple of years behind and will presumably pick the better ideas coming out of the England, Wales and Scotland proposals, mixed up with their own unique requirements.

Although there is no certainty yet as to what will be in the final versions, it’s looking likely that the various nations comprising the UK will each have different regulatory guidance and targets (with some similarities underpinning, largely coming from a shared SAP2012). These differing regulatory requirements may well be confusing for builders operating at the national boundaries, or annoying for national developers who operate in all four regions, but should allow for regional diversity of heating practices and differing regional environmental conditions to at least be partially addressed.

The different nations also each have their own ideas as to how much to push the low / zero carbon agenda, with some regions proposing braver steps than others towards the Low/Zero carbon aim.

There is much discussion regarding what will actually make it through for the proposed 2013 English regulations – publication of which is due soon (Spring 2013).  There is speculation as to what improvements, if any, may be made.  Some loud voices have called for no changes, arguing that tighter regulations will threaten house building prospects, whereas I believe a bold step forward towards low/zero carbon housing is essential and that purchasers will welcome homes with lower running costs, even if they aren’t interested in carbon emissions.

Consequential Improvements, which had a high approval level from the consultation responses, has been loudly dropped following negative press (although this omission is being challenged).

It will be interesting in 12 months time to take a look at how the different regions will be complying and how bold each of the regions will have been.


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Jon Ducker is a qualified energy assessor working for Kingspan Insulation Ltd. He has an extensive knowledge of energy efficiency, renewable energy systems and sustainability in buildings with an expert knowledge of the relevant sections of buildings regulations and standards and their interactions with SAP. He provides authoritative advice regarding energy assessments for a wide range of public and private sector clients.

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