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Last Updated: Friday, 23 January, 2004, 16:26 GMT
MPs' lobby: Greener and safer buildings
Photo of Andrew Stunell MP
Andrew Stunell wants greener and safer buildings, do you?
Buildings contribute more to global warming than transport, according to statistics from the World Wide Fund For Nature.

The Liberal Democrat's energy spokesman, Andrew Stunell MP, is presenting a bill to promote "greener and safer buildings".

The MP for Hazel Grove wants the law to ensure new and existing homes are built or renovated with security and energy-saving features.

What the Sustainable and Secure Buildings Bill will do
Making sustainability part of the Building Act 1984
Making building security a legal requirement
Making home renovations comply with the same standards as newly built homes
Buildings such as schools will no longer be exempt from building regulations.
Ensuring accountability for improving building standards of sustainability and security

Are you worried about wasting fuel in your home? Do you think we need another law to make sure our buildings are secure and energy efficient? Should the government pay for domestic security and climate change plans?

Andrew Stunell has answered your questions:

And BBC Parliament will show the interview at 1330GMT on Monday 26 January and at 2345GMT on Thursday 29 January. Andrew Stunell takes his bill to the House of Commons for a second reading on Friday 30 January.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:

Excellent idea. An equally excellent idea about paying for it would be to abolish the Department for Overseas Development by simply changing its name to 'UK Development Agency' and spending the cash here.
Roger, Whitwick

Unfortunately the average builder is a bodger
Steve M, Lympstone
I was appalled to find that the newly re-roofed house I bought had no roof insulation at all. Unfortunately the average builder is a bodger who will do things as cheaply as possible. Regulations are necessary to try and stop him.
Steve M, Lympstone

What planet are these guys on? Britain is in the grip of a housing crisis, 100,000 on the streets, well-salaried professionals unable to buy anything, country dwellers priced out of their ancestral villages and this is what we get from the Liberal Democrats. What a bunch of loonies.
James, London

Our electricity is provided purely by wind power. When we first heard of the project we asked the company why there wasn't greater advertising. They said it was because they so popular they couldn't meet demand so kept it hush hush. And for those who don't like wind turbines. I suppose a nuclear power station on your doorstep would be preferable?
Helen, Bristol

Choose a day, from which point all new developments, renovations etc will have to install solar panels able to heat enough water for use in any one day by that building.
David Read, Truro

35,000 pensioners die every winter in UK from freezing homes. If this bill means future pensioners live in warmer and safer homes and do not suffer, then the Liberal Democrats should be praised.
Donnachadh McCarthy, Peckham

As far as the building regulations, I would definitely make it mandatory for the big construction firms to follow green rules - as if they didn't have enough "incentives" in their industry already!
Mario, Wilmslow

When will Mr. Stunell and the rest of the Nanny Brigade return to obscurity where they belong?
Jack, Bath

For far too long government has allowed builders to provide poor housing for the environment and efficiency. If we have to spend most our life with a mortgage, the house should at least be well built for it!
Robert Sams, Buckingham

Politicians in the UK seem to want to meddle more and more in people's lives. This is yet another example. It would be better if we could make our houses made politician proof.
Rod Harrison, Russia (ex-UK)

I work very closely with the building regulations relating to energy efficiency and I would not complain about a few extra words to ensure buildings are not the energy equivalent of a gaping wound. As far as government interference is concerned, they would establish minimum requirements. I applaud Mr. Stunell's proposal.
Mark, Jarrow

A real problem with our modern buildings is lack of airspace
Anita Portsmouth, Bridgwater
It is rather ironic that while being told to be greener in our homes we are expanding airports and air traffic which causes major pollution - but this brings in a nice revenue. We may all like the idea of being able to jet off to somewhere when the fancy takes us, but that is totally irresponsible. But I agree that new homes should also be built to be greener and safer, including using non-toxic materials. I think a real problem with our modern buildings is lack of airspace - rooms are small and ceilings are low which means more humidity and that indoor pollutants are much more concentrated, especially with efficient insulation etc. Any laws passed should include a clause about different materials for allergy sufferers.
Anita Portsmouth, Bridgwater

The legal system is already in place and could simply be made more stringent. The issue is that existing building stocks - far outnumbering the rate of new builds - falls drastically below par. The government should be encouraging (maybe through tax relief) landlords to increase insulation levels, air tightness and overall fabric quality. This would not only address the issue where most benefit could be seen (in carbon emission reductions) but also increase the quality of housing for the less well off, create jobs and bolster manufacturing in this country. The government should also be looking to reduce the red tape that hinders the use of environmental technologies such as micro CHP and Photovoltaics at a domestic level.
Scott Crease, London

It is about time a member of a mainstream party addressed an issue as important as this. I wholly support this plan. On the other hand, when I read the opinions of the people below me who seem more concerned about not having to turn a light off rather than making sure their grandchildren have good heating, perhaps there is no point in trying to push these regulations.
Nathan, Surrey

Sustainability is essential if we want to be able to continue living life the way we do at present. Fossil fuels are a limited resource.
Clair, Leamington

About time, all houses should have good security, efficient heating and proper glazing. If all houses had solar panels by default, just imagine how much energy we would all save. Why do you think places like Sweden, etc, find it amazing that we let people live in houses that are cold, falling to pieces, and with building standards that are amongst the lowest in the western world, why else would you have most new houses, having such flimsy walls, between you and your neighbour?
Russell Hempel, Harrow

It's about time the British public had a backlash against the establishment. I am sick to death of taxes, I am sick to death of more regulation. Take a close look at the film 'Minority Report' for a little of what's to come.
Christopher Cooper, Norwich

Anything to help combat global warming has to be welcomed as it is the most serious threat to the future of this planet. Anybody who tells you otherwise is either deluded or works for the oil industry. With one million species set to be extinct by 2050, combating climate change has to be the politicians' number one priority. What about all the countless lights, computers and air conditioning units that are left on after buildings have emptied? Surely making companies turn all these off when they are not required would make a huge difference?
Heath Phipps, Croydon

An Englishman's home should be a castle not a shed
Rob, London
This bill is long overdue. We need a better standard of security or we'll have to pay higher insurance premiums. It's time to catch up with Europe. I pay through the nose for property therefore why shouldn't I have the standards proposed here? The construction industry has poor standards with an average of 250 faults for a brand new home! No-one should have to worry unless they are dodgy builders. An Englishman's home should be a castle not a shed!
Rob, London

Next year only condensing boilers are going to be allowed. What consideration has been given to the unacceptably high levels of acid that will be pumped into the atmosphere and waterways and the damage they do to the environment?
John Cook, Bath, Avon

Good plan, and not a day too soon. Ignore these fools here who complain about "stupid" laws for disabled and the irresponsible people who hate the "nanny state" interfering with their profligacy and wastefulness.
Robert Willoughby, London

I think Mr Stunell has a point. It's true that the way we live doesn't reflect what we know about ecology, recycling, and planning. We're like a nation of Victorians who want all the advantages of science with none of the discomfort of the changes.
Morven Fyfe, London

I support this ideal, but am not convinced about the ability of legislators to bring about rules that make sense, that help the situation without placing undue burden on people. Most of us want secure, energy-efficient places to live. Thatch is cool in summer, warm in winter - lets get rid of tiled roofs! Straw bales used as infill in timber frames and rendered are also thermally efficient and allow the house to breathe. Let's get rid of bricks!
Phil, UK

So domestic security arrangements are a private business are they? Don't ring the police next time you're burgled then, it's none of their business. The Liberal Democrats are doing something right for once.
Ed, UK

Does it mean that every DIY-er should expect a visit from the Buildings Inspector if he puts up a shelf?
Ian Baker, Reading
Sustainability - what exactly does this mean? The gap between the roof and the foundations of my own home has been a sustainable two storeys for the last 14 years. Or are we planning to stop building huge estates on bogs and floodplains? Does it mean that every DIY-er should expect a visit from the Buildings Inspector if he puts up a shelf? Physical security is already adequately regulated by the free market (just try and get your house insured without it!). Some Police to back this up might be a radical addition, though I'm all for the basic idea however, I suspect that this will get completely lost in the implementation.
Ian Baker, Reading

As a constituent of Mr Stunell's I am very pleased to hear he is using his private members bill to try and push this issue forward. Congratulations Mr Stunnell and good luck for your next definite term in office!
Alastair Middlemist, Hazel Grove

The trouble with some MPs is that they think they know more than anyone else, and so wish to impose their will on the rest of us. This would present an even more bureaucratic nightmare than there already is in planning, and would greatly increase costs. For each regulation introduced, five should be abolished.
R Scott-Watson, Fairfield

Oh, will the Liberal Democrats please just get lost! Aren't there slightly more pressing things to deal with than this? This is nanny state taken to new extremes. All this will achieve is less individual freedom of action, more red tape and unnecessary bureaucracy, purely in an attempt to appease a minority bunch of tree huggers.
Mike Smith, Leeds, Nanny State.

Why aren't building contractors charged for the environmental damage they cause? Levies should be put in place, for the amount of landfill generated, or for not using grey water flushing.
Tim Pateman, Cambridge

It's high time we had a law like this
Anna Scott, Sheffield
Well done Andrew Stunell MP! It's high time we had a law like this. Energy efficiency needs to be enforced not just encouraged to achieve the reductions in carbon dioxide needed to tackle climate change.
Anna Scott, Sheffield

Another completely stupid proposal from a really rather loony party. If this is the best idea Mr Stunell can come up with for how to make the UK a better place to live, then his complete obscurity suddenly becomes not just understandable but entirely justified.
Francis Ingham, Enfield

I am appalled at the selfish nature of many of the views expressed here. We live in a global community and have not only a responsibility to others, but to our children. Are these people really saying that it is more important to them that they be allowed to modify their homes paying no attention to the environmental ramifications, than paying attention to effects that their actions will have on the state of our planet? It is for this reason that politicians have to start making environmental decisions because we are not responsible enough to do it ourselves. Most political parties are too frightened of the selfish electorate to enact these essential policies. The Liberal Democrats should me making more of a stance on the environment.
Rachel, York

I fail to see how building security has anything to do with this remit. However, I do think that there should be more use made of solar power, and perhaps grants should be made available to the public to encourage their installation.
Bill, UK

I notice those who complain about regulations have nothing at all to say about how our environment should be protected. We have laws to protect us from criminals, why not regulations to protect us from those who are destroying this planet?
Geoff Payne, London

If there were tax breaks on homes that provided their own energy through solar panels or renewable sources, and higher costs for people who use limited and damaging resources such as fossil fuels, the world would be a better place for our children. It would also be paid for only by those who didn't care.
Craig Dennett, Canterbury

It would be great if your new law would include a check on the environmental properties of the building in addition to any other planning checks that might take place. In the last 20 years three out of four of my properties have had major deficiencies in thermal insulation. New checks of this nature would be a huge benefit to buyers of new homes, reducing post-purchase headaches and reducing fuel costs. The NHBC are ineffective at providing this level of control and do not have the necessary clout or motivation. A separate body (or councils) would be better. I wish every success for this bill.
Mark Asplen-Taylor, Bucks

Yes we do need energy efficient buildings, but we also desperately need stricter rules in England on sound insulation for homes. Noise may not add to global warming but it does nothing for social cohesion, which would add to our quality of life.
Kate Kirwan, London

I do not need some interfering MP to tell me what to do
Barry P, Havant
I live in a 70 years old house. At my own expense I have added double glazing, roof insulation to the latest levels, and wall cavity insulation. My fuel bills are so low that my gas supplier thought I was fiddling the meter. I do not need some interfering MP to tell me what to do. Mr Stunnell would be of more use if he dismantled some of the planning restrictions so that my son could afford to buy a home, of any sort. And the best security for my home is to ensure that criminals are locked up, and potential criminals know that the law will actually do something to stop them.
Barry P, Havant

Yes we should be doing something about wasting energy! Steve, our houses are not 'already fairly efficient'. If you compare our houses with those in other northern European countries then you find that we waste huge amounts of energy through poorer insulation, and inefficient heating and lighting. And Mark: yes, you do pay to waste energy. Why? Most of the things you can do to make your house more efficient will actually save you money. And everyone will have to deal with the costs and effects of climate change.
J Howes, London,

So you want to waste energy, because you pay for it? As long as your energy is produced by coal power stations, we pay for it in global warming, increased air pollution resulting in respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis. This is an excellent idea - as long as there's money to back it up. Some architects are currently doing wonderful jobs at designing and building environmentally, sustainable housing. But for a lot of public servants - including me - it's outside my price range. Make it affordable, as all this new "social housing" should be, and I'll buy one in a flash!
Mark Rich, Leeds

The "green" bit is fine. How about dropping the price of solar cells? If every house in the uk had them there would be vastly less energy needed. As for security, we should have a real law and order system instead of this "clockwork orange" system of locking ourselves into ever better cages while the criminals roam free
Jon Luisada, Birmingham

Andrew Stunell sounds like your typical lentil-eating, upper middle class liberal. With homelessness such a problem today in Britain anything that potentially stands in the way of house building is bad in my view.
anon, UK

Nice idea, one problem: people don't want clear skies, they want cheap housing! Pricing is more prescient to modern society than eco-friendliness.
Steve, Maidstone

Pleased to hear somebody has raised this issue, but does the proposed legislation only cover England and Wales? I e-mailed my MSP with a question about sustainable house building three years ago and was told, in effect, that Scotland's Parliament had to wait for Westminster to give clearance to make amendments to the regulations. Sounds to me like we're over ruled, in both senses of the words!
John Sinclair, Aberdeen

This should have been done 40 years ago
Craig Howat, Nottingham
Well done, a good proposal. As someone who worked in regeneration, our UK homes are cold, draughty and waste energy. This should have been done 40 years ago.
Craig Howat, Nottingham

Making security a legal requirement for homes criminalises the innocent home-owner. These proposals are plain wrong-headed. We need to be punishing criminals, not ordinary citizens who don't choose to conform to some busybody's views.
Graeme, Whalley

Making home renovations comply with the same standards as new houses will surely mean renovation will become economically unviable in many cases leading to the decaying houses and clearances that we saw in the 60's and 70's. Will the rules also apply to listed buildings?
M. Trim, Southampton

The problem with leaving it to individuals and companies to make the right choices is usually cash. The non-green options often seem cheaper at first sight. But rather than tinker around the edges, they should sit down, throw away the old book and completely re-write it so we end up with clear and cohesive regulation rather than a quagmire.
Michael Bauer, Glasgow

Perhaps houses do make a larger contribution to global warming than transport, but we are a small country and these changes would only make a real difference if they were taken on continentally and globally. As for safer homes, people should be able to sort out their own security. Some people would rather have few locks than be enclosed as if in prison.
C Myall, Benfleet

Are people going to be able to afford these greener and safer buildings you want built? Considering I have seen my skilled trade die over the last few years, how am I going to afford a greener house - let alone a normal one? Answer that one.
Liam Walls, Birmingham

Mr Stunell has got this right. We owe it to our children to ensure that we pay for the damage to our environment. Improved security for our houses will be welcomed by all except criminals.
Chris Gee, Newbury, UK

My security arrangements are my business and not yours
Mark, Bath
Keep your nose out of my house. My security arrangements are my business and not yours. Why do you Lib Dems have to take a nanny view on everything? Government with a light touch is what we need. You people make me so angry with your interfering and busybody ways.
Mark Sparrow, Bath

Buildings may be the main cause of global warming but what about the other products within the home such as old refrigerators that are still emitting CFC's that are contributing to the further depletion of the ozone layer? Shouldn't the government make it illegal to keep owning such products and setup a buy back programme to allow home owners to afford to buy a new safer product?
Stephen Miles, London

We already have far too many regulations and what is proposed will further reduce the freedom of householders to build and enhance their properties as they choose. We already have stupid regulations for building new properties which mean they all have to be built so a disabled person could live there. Why not have a fund which allows disabled people to make the additions they require? Why do we have to always give in to the loony green brigade? Why can't we the silent majority tell them to get off our back and leave us alone? If my house wastes loads of energy then that's up to me, I pay for it.
Mark Rush, Ipswich

It is extremely important; if not for our future, at least the future of our children and future generations. The Sustainable and Secure Buildings Bill sounds like a perfect plan as security is the most vital element in our society today and I'm residing in a student area which creates all the more the need for such measures. Just like everyone is made to comply with Health and Safety standards in today's society, it is about time domestic security is also looked at. Go for it Mr Stunnel!
D Mani, Durham

I am so pleased someone is finally taking this issue seriously
Chris, Solihull
I am so pleased someone is finally taking this issue seriously. If this goes through, Andrew will be able to say that he has truly contributed to the fight against climate change. Would Andrew's bill be much encouragement to add solar panels to new public or private buildings?
Chris Williams, Solihull

I don't think any new things should be built. New is bad. We should go back to the good old days when everything was old, just like me - old, old, old. Out with the new and back to the old! That's what I say.
Cecil Robinson, A little village in the North of England

New homes are amazing because you can sit in them and sleep in them and it's warm and hot and there's telly.
Dominic Nagpal, Enfield

I'm just finishing building a new home and can appreciate the appalling and negative impact of planning and building regulations. We already have too many vague and vexatious regulations and need less not more. The Lib Dems are the party of busybodies who know nothing about anything, especially so-called green and safety issues.
Andrew Dundas, Ilkley

Why waste time, effort and money creating more unnecessary bureaucratic mess and rules, for houses that are already fairly efficient. Rather than create specifications and rules, offer construction companies incentives to design green buildings. I feel the government would be much better served by creating an organised and efficient recycling scheme that encourages participation, rather than the shoddy half attempt we have at the moment.
Steve Sommerville, London

Andrew Stunell
22 Oct 02  |  UK Politics
03 Dec 03  |  Politics

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