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London leads the way with energy-saving new developments

London leads the way with energy-saving new developments

A new report highlights how the Mayor’s planning regulations are cutting London’s carbon emissions, increasing the use of solar energy and doubling the use of heat pumps in new developments across the city.

The Mayor’s 2021 London Plan sets the agenda for the development of the city for decades to come. It includes policies that address the climate emergency, the housing crisis and sets out how to make London a greener and healthier city for all Londoners.

The newly published ‘2021 Energy Monitoring Report’ illustrates how these policies are making a tangible difference through the planning system.

Key findings include:

  • Emissions from proposed new developments almost halving compared with levels required to meet national Building Regulations, equating to a saving of over 38,000 tonnes of CO2. This is equivalent to 32,000 return flights from London to New York.
  • 100 proposed developments, with over 23,000 homes, will now use heat pumps for their heating system. Nearly twice as many as in 2020. 
  • 87 per cent of proposed developments will include solar panels. These panels will have a cumulative area of 59,000 m² (approximately 13 football pitches), totalling approximately £16 million in new solar investment.  
  • More than 36,000 homes are expected to connect to a communal heat network or area-wide district heating network. 31 communal heat networks are proposed to be supplied by heat pumps, overtaking the number of those being supplied by gas-fired boilers.  

Where new developments have a shortfall between on-site reductions and zero carbon, applicants make a cash-in-lieu contribution into the relevant Local Planning Authority’s (LPA) carbon offset fund (based on a £/tonne of CO2 price).  

The new Carbon Offset Funds Report shows that since 2016, the Mayor’s carbon offsetting policy has realised £145m across London to support activities that tackle the climate emergency. Projects benefitting from offset funds include energy efficiency in buildings, district heating and installation of renewable energy generation. Of the £145m, over a third (£55m) has been collected or secured for collection since the 2020 survey. 

These reports were published shortly after the government’s net zero review. They demonstrate how the Mayor is using his powers to boost London’s green economy while accelerating climate action. The Skidmore Review shows that the UK is falling behind on key climate policy targets and needs to be more ambitious. Cities like London are leading the way for example with planning policies that deliver far more carbon savings than those set by national regulations, while helping Londoners become more energy efficient. 

Deputy Mayor for the Environment and Energy Shirley Rodrigues said: “Buildings in London are responsible for 78 per cent of London’s emissions, so it’s important that we do all we can to ensure new buildings in the city will meet our net zero climate targets and improve energy efficiency.

“Thanks to the Mayor’s London Plan we are seeing huge reductions in carbon emissions from proposed developments. Not only are energy efficient buildings better for the environment, but the use of heat pumps and solar panels can also bring down energy bills long-term, helping people through the cost-of-living crisis.

“The Mayor has repeatedly called for the Government to be bolder with climate change policies and devolve powers and funding, as well as provide more support to Londoners. London’s pioneering approach means that we are reducing carbon emissions far quicker than if we followed national policy. However, there is still much more to be done to build a better London for everyone – a safer, fairer, greener and more prosperous city for all Londoners.”

The Energy Monitoring report and Carbon Offset Funds report and are available to read online.

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BDC 301 February 2023