Sustainability

As I read through the news today I was going to comment on the new planning policy regulations that will require all new buildings in Wales to meet minimum sustainability standards. John Dixon beat me to it, but I'd like to add a few things.

I am very pleased that we in Wales have done this. Up until now we have got nowhere near the standards that have existed for years in some other European countries, notably those in Scandinavia ... and it is gratifying to be able to lead the way in Britain.

I also think that we have gone about it in quite a clever way. The Building Regulations are a set of standards that apply to both England and Wales, so there was no realistic chance of us being able to get higher sustainability standards in Wales by those means. So what we've done is use the Planning System (which is a devolved matter) instead. Basically you don't get planning permission unless you build to higher standards.

However Building Regulations still play an important role, not least because not all building work requires planning permission. I would very much like to see Wales move towards the situation that exists in Scotland, where the Building Standards Division (their body for Building Regulations) has been re-integrated into the Scottish Government and has become part of a new Directorate for the Built Environment which includes Planning and Architectural Policy.

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