PassivHaus principlesWe clearly need sufficient housing in the Moorlands and under a Climate Emergency any new housing should be built to high standards in terms of insulation and energy use. The Staffordshire Moorlands District Plan suggests we must create 320 new houses every year. However, it does not stipulate that these should be fully carbon-neutral over their lifetime. It is clearly wrong to allow developers to build houses that will cost the residents more in the long run but also indirectly other ratepayers, who will have to bear the cost of future mitigation such as flooding.

The construction industry is very conservative and change takes a long time. This could be helped by government and council working together to train workers in the modern techniques of Passive House design and build. This programme would have to be reinforced by building regulations suitable for the 21st century. There are of course countless houses already built which will need a retrofit to make them fit for the future. MCA’s Energy group is working to bring both professional advice and the benefit of individual experiences to Moorlands householders.

It was disappointing that the Government's last plan to help householders, the Green Homes Grant Scheme, was so poorly advertised and difficult to access, a key problem being that there were insufficient properly registered installers available for householders to get quotes for energy efficiency improvements. We hope that the next scheme will be better organised and not left to private companies to profit from. There are charities such as Beat the Cold in Stoke-on-Trent and Marches Energy Agency who have already worked in the Moorlands and who would undoubtedly have done a better job. Fortunately, there is some light on the horizon, as the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee is conducting an inquiry into the carbon footprint of constructing buildings and the sustainability of the materials used in the construction industry; it will be instructive to learn what the big house builders will have to say about that. Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, the Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said when launching the inquiry:

For decades we have been constructing homes and buildings with concrete and steel, with little thought to the carbon footprint involved. While Government policy incentivizing a house-building boom could contradict its net zero ambitions, there is an opportunity for innovation as we explore low-carbon and sustainable building materials. Our new inquiry will consider how we can decarbonise construction and the opportunities that may arise, and I invite anyone with thoughts to submit evidence.”

We wonder if the Government will pay attention to this report when it's published or if it will be ignored while developers continue to build sub-standard houses in the Moorlands?