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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Prices ratcheted up for first time buyers by ‘nearly energy zero’ homes

Improving energy efficiency of new homes will push up prices for first-time buyers, it was suggested at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim councillors.

The local authority has been asked to respond to a Department of Finance consultation on proposals for amendment to technical guidance for conservation of fuel and power in new properties.

Conservation of fuel and power of building regulations sets minimum standards for building work with respect to carbon performance and energy conservation measures.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Head of Planning Pul Duffy told a meeting of the Borough Growth Committee on Monday evening that the Department is “keen to introduce and enhance standards around “Nearly Energy Zero” buildings.

A “Nearly Energy Zero” building has a high energy performance and the low amount of energy required should be covered to a significant extent by energy from renewable sources.

He added that the current standards were put in place in 2012 and he indicated that the Department accepts that a “fundamental review” is required to “bring Northern Ireland into step” with other regions of the United Kingdom and to”deliver more carbon savings and bring a reduction in energy bills”.

Knockagh DUP Councillor Peter Johnston pointed out that the effects of electric charging for cars need to be considered.

“At the minute, there is a drive for energy efficient households but ultimately for a country this may result in people using electric cars which will require huge demand for energy at a domestic property.”

He asked if this requirement was taken into account in this review.

Mr Duffy explained that the review was an “interim measure” adding that it is “trying to improve the energy efficiency of new-build properties” by up to 40 per cent in houses, 25 per cent in flats and 15 per cent in non-domestic properties.”

It is understood that this is the Department’s preferred option.

Coast Road DUP Councillor Andrew Clarke said he would be happier with “more moderate” options.

“It is energy costs pushing up housing costs especially for young people getting on to the housing market. In ratcheting up standards, it keeps ratcheting up prices,” he commented.

According to the most recent quarterly house price index published in November, the average house price in Mid and East Antrim is £144,737 which is a rise of 10.6 per cent on the previous 12 months and 0.7 per cent since the previous quarter.

The average price for a house in Northern Ireland is £159,109.

In response to a query over the support of other local authorities, Mr Duffy pointed out that this is a consultation and that Northern Ireland already “lags behind” the other devolved administrations” on the matter.


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