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Sat December 07 2019

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LibDems campaign for all new buildings to be Passivhaus by 2025

21 Nov The Liberal Democrats party has put infrastructure investment front and centre of its 2019 general election manifesto.

The LibDems – free of the burden of expectation of actually having to deliver on any promises they make – are pledging to spend £130bn on infrastructure, building new and improved transport systems (including HS2 and Crossrail 2), schools, hospitals and homes.

The manifesto states that a Lib Dem government would require all new homes and non-domestic buildings to be built to a zero-carbon standard by 2021, rising to the more ambitious Passivhaus low-energy standard by 2025.

The LibDems want to accelerate the current rate of house-building, to put up 300,000 homes a year by 2024, including 100,000 social homes.

Existing homes would be subject to energy efficiency improvements, with VAT on home insulation materials reduced and minimum energy efficiency standards increased for privately rented properties.

The LibDems would also change the remit of the National Infrastructure Commission so that it takes fully into account the climate and environmental implications of all national infrastructure decisions.

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The LibDem manifesto promises £5bn of start-up capital for a new Green Investment Bank, using public money to attract private investment for zero-carbon priorities. (We used to have a Green Investment Bank but the Conservative government sold it to an Australian bank in 2017.)

Other policies of note to the construction industry include new requirements for the greater use of sustainably harvested wood in construction and converting the rail network to electric or hydrogen power by 2035.

And, you may have heard, they’d cancel Brexit.

The LibDems are currently trailing third in the opinion polls at around 15%.

Federation of Master Builders director Ifan Glyn was attracted by one LibDem policy. “The Lib Dems' pledge to cut VAT on home insulation is a step in the right direction and is an area that we have been lobbying on for a number of years through the Cut the VAT campaign,” he said. “However, I feel that it needs to go further and VAT should be cut on the labour element of home improvement work across the board. Doing so would simplify the VAT system and send a clear message that boosting jobs and consumer demand in this space is a priority. We know that homeowners are more likely to request energy efficiency upgrades as a bolt on to other building work being carried out on their homes. Cutting VAT across the board would therefore incentivise the de-carbonisation of our homes further."

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