IEMA has given a cautious welcome to a long-delayed key environmental policy identified as an aim for the next year of Government by Her Majesty The Queen in her speech at the State Opening of Parliament.

A significant area for the environment, revealed this morning at what is her last speech to this current Parliament, signifies Government’s intention to encourage environmentally positive investment in infrastructure projects of all sizes. Within this, introduction of legislation which will “enable all new homes to be built to a zero carbon standard” is now clearly an aim for this Government, a move that IEMA is pleased to see gather pace.

Nick Blyth, Policy & Practice Lead at IEMA, said today: “The Zero Carbon Homes commitment has suffered from extended delay and policy uncertainty. It will be good to see the policy implemented and much needed clarity for developers and stakeholders interested in this area. We look forward to consultation on the proposals.

He continued: “The allowable solutions element of zero carbon homes should continue to be viewed the final stage of a carbon reduction hierarchy approach, whereby the policy emphasis is first and foremost placed on at source carbon reductions through zero carbon design and energy efficiency. Carbon compensation however through offsetting and other projects will have a role to play on any residual emissions. Significant interest exists in the potential for compensatory schemes that are close to development sites or are UK based for example through well developed schemes such as the Forestry Commission’s Woodland Carbon Code.

The Queen also outlined the introduction of a new 5p change on plastic carrier bags “to help protect the environment”. Blyth also welcomes this move, saying: “Green taxes, which this 5p charge certainly is, have the potential to drive environment and sustainability right to the heart of business and consumer decision making. We support the approach to introduce a tax on plastic carrier bags and also more broadly the approach and principle of environmental taxation. We would like to see the Government reconfirm the policy commitment they made on environment tax principles in 2011”.

Wednesday 4th June 2014