CML casts doubt on green houses

The Council of Mortgages Lenders has questioned the viability of Gordon Brown’s ambitions to build eco-towns with zero-carbon homes.

In May, the Prime Minister-designate said one of the goals of his premiership would be to build five eco- towns containing 100,000 carbon-neutral homes, as well as zero-carbon schools, health centres and transport links.

But the CML believes it will be de-cades before Brown’s green dream be-comes a reality.

It says the UK’s housing shortage will continue to drive up prices, which will constrain contractors’ ability to build zero-carbon homes and consum-ers’ ability to pay for them.

It also says Whitehall’s definition of zero-carbon homes is unclear and is concerned about whether they will prove attractive to buyers. A spokesman for the CML says: “Consumers will have difficult choices to make. There’s a ground- swell of public opinion demanding green action.

“But we don’t know how people will react when measures to reduce environmental damage begin to impose significant constraints on their lifestyles and household budgets.”

He adds: “At this stage, we don’t know enough about building carbon-neutral homes to be able to say when they might be built in significant numbers or whether consumers will be prepared to pay a premium for them.”

Jenny Irwin, marketing manager at Ecology, says: “While we acknowledge the constraints that the CML identifies, we believe a pessimistic view on the development of low carbon homes is warranted.

“Putting aside potentially unhelpful terms such as eco-towns and zero- carbon homes, developers are already committed to building to the highest possible standards while reducing their carbon use.”

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government says: “We have brought forward green initiatives to improve the quality of the houses built and to ensure all new homes are zero-carbon by 2016.”