house funding

Theresa May calls for tougher design rules to prevent ‘tiny homes’

Theresa May has called for mandatory design standards for new houses, saying the number of “tiny homes” with little storage on the market is indefensible.

The prime minister said the lack of universal, enforceable rules on the amount of internal space is encouraging a “race to the bottom” among builders.

If all councils made those rules a pre-condition of planning, it would end the “postcode lottery”, she argued.

MPs, meanwhile, say residents should be compensated for design flaws.

The cross-party Commons Public Accounts Committee said there needed to be a clear definition of what was acceptable in terms of the quality of new housing.

In a new report, it said it was particularly concerned about offices and commercial buildings being converted into residential properties.

The government is reviewing its policy of allowing the conversion of offices into homes without planning permission.

What are the rules?

Guidelines specifying minimum bedroom size, floor areas for storage and floor to ceiling heights for new builds in England have been in place for several years and were last updated in 2016.

But the Nationally Described Space Standards are not compulsory, and are only applicable if councils adopt them as part of their local housing plan.

What does the PM want?

In a speech to the Chartered Institute of Housing in Manchester, Mrs May said there are different standards in different areas.

While the government remained committed to a massive expansion in house building over the next decade, hoping to reach a target of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid 2020s, she said this cannot come at the expense of quality.

“I cannot defend a system in which owners and tenants are forced to accept tiny homes with inadequate storage,” she said.

“Where developers feel the need to fill show homes with deceptively small furniture. And where the lack of universal standards encourages a race to the bottom.”

The government wants to see design requirements incorporated into the planning process for the first time.

But MPs have expressed concerns that too many councils’ housing plans are out of date and some town halls do not have a blueprint at all due to its cost and complexity.

The Public Accounts Committee said ministers were reluctant to intervene and use their powers to develop a plan centrally because of concerns over localism.

Why is housing such a key issue?

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 300 councils in England and Wales, said there needed to be more leadership from government on the issue so councils, developers and home buyers knew where they stood.

“High-quality homes for affordable and social rent are desperately needed across the country now,” said Martin Tett, the organisation’s housing spokesman.

“These standards should future-proof all new homes ensuring they are accessible for all ages and all markets, meet the housing needs of our ageing population and are environmentally sustainable.”

Shelter said it applauded efforts to improve the quality of new homes but the reality was that most first-time buyers could simply not afford to get on the housing ladder.

It said ministers’ efforts should be focused on removing disincentives in the market to build social housing.

“What this country needs – and what it wants – is a commitment from the top, from any prime minister, to a renewal of social housing,” said its chief executive Polly Neate.



2 years post Grenfell, do new regulations go far enough?

The Fire Protection Association, the UK’s national fire safety organisation, is highlighting that, if we want to prevent another Grenfell Tower tragedy, it’s time for some immediate change. The organisation remains firm in its message that two years after “Grenfell”, the government’s changes to building regulations and the so-called ban on combustible cladding do not go far enough in protecting buildings and the people who live in them, from fire.

The Fire Protection Association says the solution should be:

  • Third party certification – we welcome the acknowledgement of the value of independently verified products, but believe this assurance should be mandated and extend to the installers of products and the risk assessors
  • Extending the ban on combustibles to all high-risk buildings regardless of height – not just buildings over 18 metres
  • Ban single staircases in building in excess of 18m – to offer both an entrance and exit staircase
  • Mandatory installation of multi sensor detection for all high-risk occupancies – a fire detector that monitors a number of potential dangers, including smoke, heat, carbon-monoxide

Jonathan O’Neill, OBE, managing director, Fire Protection Association commented:

“The Fire Protection Association supports a total ban on combustible building materials, to all high-risk buildings, such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, blocks of flats – not just those buildings over 18 metres. We also want a ban on single staircases in all tall buildings, because in the event of a fire you need at least one staircase for people to be able to evacuate the building, and a second staircase for the fire and rescue services for entry. Our support of third-party certification, to provide independent verification of building regulations services, as well as the mandatory installation of multi sensor detectors (that can detect several sources, such as heat, smoke and carbon monoxide) is also a key consideration. There is clearly much that still needs to be done, so we are keen to see change now – and will help in any way we can to ensure that we never again experience a tragedy on the scale we witnessed at Grenfell.”

Digital Construction

The importance of Digital Construction

Digital construction is at the forefront of the UK’s overarching Industrial Strategy. With an abundance of digital solutions available to streamline project management and workflow, which measures can be taken to assure there are sufficient skilled employees to use them and secure the construction industry’s future?

Attracting younger generations

At present, it is estimated that 22% of the construction industry’s current workforce is over 50 and 15% is over 60; startling figures which are indicative of the industry’s ageing workforce. Therefore, as time progresses it is becoming more crucial to identify potential avenues which will attract pools of young people to fill the emerging skills gap.

According to a Redrow report, 52% of young people disregard a career in construction, either because they are simply disinterested or completely unaware of what a career in construction entails. This statistic needs explicating, as it could infer that the current construction industry skills shortage is perpetuated by the multiple misconceptions and misperceptions which have been rife in the industry for a long period of time.

The industry has made significant progression over the past decade, yet the majority of young people unfortunately associate construction with muddy hi-vis vests, dust and little opportunity for development. A misrepresentation that is almost as shocking as the statistic mentioned above: what is it going to take to let young people see how enterprising, innovative and ‘digital’ the construction industry is?

Technology is used throughout our everyday lives, transcending age groups. Even though the construction industry is no exception, it is still perceived as relatively low-tech.

Start with secondary schools

Whilst architecture university degrees are prolific in the education of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and other digital construction solutions, this trend is by no means concurrent with secondary schools. The reasons for this are not necessarily to do with a matter of choice or preference; UK schools are under pressure to offer students – at GCSE particularly – the sought-after STEM subjects which are at the foundation of an industrial, corporate world.

Even though STEM subjects open-up multiple opportunities for young people, the same sentiment applies to the construction industry. For example, digital construction is part of the UK’s wider Industrial Strategy, where the creation of software such as BIM has generated jobs requiring a high level of technical education and skills which form the base of ‘STEM careers’.

An example would be the use of augmented reality across construction projects. Although the technology is in its early stages, augmented reality (AR) is radically changing the building process, described as a way to visualise, manage and coordinate data throughout a building’s lifecycle. AR creates a virtual 3D structure of a building, providing important data about each component that can be accessed pre, during and post construction. Therefore, as this working method continues to develop, complementary skillsets will have to be nurtured within client organisations to ensure the software can be operated and utilised efficiently by Operations and FM teams.

Digital construction in action

A few years ago the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) developed ‘Craft Your Future’, a programme for 12-14 year olds which is integrated into the computer game Minecraft. Designed to encourage young people to consider careers in city planning, construction management and more, ‘Craft Your Future’ is a virtual solution which gives young people crucial insight into the real-time operation of a construction project.

Whilst ‘Craft Your Future’ may be playing a vital role in addressing the future skills gap and labour shortages, the industry in its present state has more pressing concerns. It is widely known that throughout the industry there is a reluctance to adopt digital solutions. Bodies such as the UK BIM Alliance – which GroupBC is a patron of – educate companies on the benefits of digital construction and aim to ensure a common approach amongst vendors. However, much needs to be achieved to counteract this unproductive cultural stalemate if the industry is to embrace modern methods of working, such as off-site manufacturing.

Recent initiatives such as reverse mentoring programmes, offered by the likes of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering – in which the more ‘digitally-experienced’ workers are helping senior colleagues transition to digital processes – are softening the alien transition from one way of working to another. As such, these will hopefully provide them with a better understanding of the business benefits of digital technologies.

The initiatives outlined above are just a small portion of the many programmes that are being developed to realise the industry’s digital future. For this reason, the industry would do well to continually develop programmes such as these, headed by inspirational industry specialists who can showcase the excellence, worth and opportunities in digital construction to people of all ages and abilities. Not only will this help close the skills gap, it will ensure construction businesses have enough highly-skilled workers to steer the construction industry into its digital chapter.

Source: UK Construction Media


Zero carbon by 2050?

The UK is to become the first G7 nation to set a legally-binding target to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced Government will tomorrow lay a statutory instrument before Parliament that will amend the Climate Change Act and introduce a  net zero emission target.

Presently the country is committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

According to the Committee on Climate Change, which recommended the move in its recent report, the industry has little more than 10 years to take all new buildings over to net zero carbon if the goal is to be met.

The commitment will also need wholesale changes to energy generating infrastructure and big changes to new buildings and improvements to existing buildings.

This will require a switch away from fossil-fuel based heating, increasing the energy efficiency of the building stock, and improving the energy efficiency of lighting and electrical appliances.

It will also necessitate the widespread use of heat pumps to replace boilers and accelerating district heating and hydrogen technologies.

Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at UKGBC said: “This is a powerful and positive move by the Prime Minister that will give her time in office a legacy beyond Brexit.

“UKGBC knows that the built environment contains some of the biggest opportunities to slash emissions.

“We must accelerate action in all areas including improving the efficiency of our aging building stock, and overcoming the challenge of decarbonising heat.

“To do this, we need to see both policy and industry leadership to ensure the built environment is at the vanguard of emissions reductions. There is no time to lose, now is the time to act.”

Paul Reeve, director of the Electrical Contractors Association, said: “No-one should expect the feat of resolving the UK’s carbon footprint to be anything other than daunting, but the Government has issued a truly remarkable response to the ‘zero carbon’ challenge set out by the CCC in May.

“The task ahead is immense: the UK is drastically short of the infrastructure, supply and installation capacity needed to introduce low-carbon building heating at scale.

“There are also major ‘low carbon’ skills gaps across building design, construction and installation. We also need to ensure that whatever happens in the years ahead delivers the quality and performance necessary for whole-life low carbon buildings.”

Building upwards will bring big benefits

With the government’s recent revisions of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), it is now easier for homeowners and developers to create homes above existing residential and commercial properties. Since these revisions, rooftop home developers have received funding to generate much-needed affordable homes across the UK.

Insulation Express have uncovered the benefits of building upwards, from saving the Green Belt to overcoming the current housing shortage, and why this could create a future trend in construction.

Building upwards could heighten the development growth in dense cities

The shortage of available properties has long been recognised as an issue affecting our society but building upwards could ease the demand in areas with less space and at a faster pace. In dense urban areas where there is a lack of development sites, rather than forcing people out of the city, upward extensions could allow people to live and work in city centres.

To see where there’s a demand and opportunities for development growth, Insulation Express analysed just how many people share a sqm in cities of the UK.

Surprisingly, Brighton and Hove has 10 people packed into just a sqm, even more than London (seven people per sqm). In such a densely packed city, there are limitations on where to build, but skyward extensions could be hugely beneficial in this seaside town.

There has also been a wider focus on the capital of the housing crisis, London, with seven people per sqm. Most London residents have the option of crippling rent prices or long commutes from outside London. According to the developers a whopping 180,000 rooftop homes could be created in London, even housing up to 720,000 people.

Notably, Liverpool is one of the least dense cities, with just four people sharing a sqm, yet the city has the most expensive plots.

Upward extensions could boost the productivity of the UK’s construction sector by 50%

Research has identified a critical challenge in the industry – a shortage in the workforce, and this was before the UK voted to leave the EU.

As of May 2019:

  • The total workforce is made up of 90% UK nationals, 7% EU nationals and 3% non-EU nationals.
  • Construction workers in the UK are ageing – Nearly half (47%) of UK nationals are aged 45 and over.
  • In comparison, non-UK nationals are much younger, with those aged 45 years and over making up 18% of the workforce.

Unfortunately, once we leave the EU, this shortfall could end up being worse as it becomes difficult for EU workers to live and work in the UK.

This shortage coupled with the fact that the UK’s construction industry already lags behind in productivity (15% less than Germany and 25% less than France), means the UK urgently needs to solve its issues.

But rooftop homes could be the answer. Generally, upward extensions use the modular construction process. This means building the home off-site before craning the property on top for less disruption. These techniques are massively quicker and require less workers. With new legislation making it easier to gain planning permission for building above, we could see the UK’s construction productivity grow by 50%.

How building up could stop the rapid increase (34% in two years) of homes on the green belt

The Green Belt is the neighboring countryside for more than 30 million people, covering 13% of the land in England – 1,639,560 hectares to be exact. However, the pressures on Green Belt land are mounting – there are calls for reforms to release the land in the UK to ease the housing demand.

For many, the loss of Green Belt land is also the loss of an escape from urban life, that’s why this countryside is generally protected. While building on this land is supposed to be extremely difficult to get planning permission. But since 2013, there has been a 62% increase in the loss of greenfield Green Belt (part of the Green Belt that previously, had not been built on before). Just in 2017/18 alone, there was huge 34% increase of residential units on Green Belt land.

The number of homes proposed to be built on Green Belt land has increased from 425,000 in 2017 to 459,000 in 2018, that’s an 8% rise in just one year. With the increased demand of homes needing to be built threatening our Green Belt further, one solution could be building above. London needs 66,000 homes a year, yet 22% of the land is designated Green Belt – upward extensions could allow developers to alleviate housing pressures without restrictions.

Rooftop homes can reduce construction waste by up to 90%

The majority of rooftop developers use modular homes to create these extensions. This is a major advantage in itself, especially to our environment. Why? Modular homes use marginally less materials than traditional construction, which makes them quicker to build and less damaging to the environment.

Traditional methods of construction normally use a vast array of materials (400 million tons each year), much of which has a negative impact on the environment, due to the emissions created when manufacturing these materials. But another damaging effect of this is the waste, the industry wastes 120 million tons of material per year and accounts for almost a third of the UK total of waste production.

Off-site construction for upward extensions helps the industry battle this. Modular homes use less materials in general and with modular construction being built off-site, in a controlled environment, using standard sizes and even layouts, this means this method can reduce waste by up to 90%.

The challenges of building upwards

Even with all these advantages, there are certain limitations, mainly because it means you are building on top of an existing structure. This presents various design challenges and you need to ensure the existing property is structurally sound. Not least that you have to generate a solution that creates a useful space without interfering with the function of the existing development.

Developers also need to abide to planning regulations despite the new planning permissions for building upwards. Neighbouring properties have the right to object to proposed building plans if they believe it infringes on their rights, which could mean anything from lack of light to nuisance, this all falls under the Party Wall Act of 1996.



The first plastic road used in a housing development

Springfield Properties has become the UK’s first house builder to use waste plastic to build a road on a housing development.

Springfield has used the more environmentally friendly asphalt product containing waste plastic on a section of road at the company’s Linkwood Steadings development in Elgin.

The product reduces the amount of bitumen needed in the asphalt mix but the new surface looks like a traditional road while benefiting from increased durability and longevity.

Springfield teamed up with specialist MacRebur and asphalt producer Pat Munro.

MacRebur turns plastic waste that would otherwise have gone to landfill into granules which are then mixed with a special activator, reducing the amount of fossil fuel required in asphalt production.

Springfield Properties’ North Managing Director, Dave Main, said: “The road in Elgin accounts for 20 tonnes of recycled plastic, the equivalent to 17,042 plastic bags or 6,000 plastic bottles, which would otherwise have been consigned to landfill or incineration.”

Sarah Lakin, Contracts Manager for MacRebur, said: “At MacRebur, we have worked with household names in the commercial sector, the Department for Transport, Highways England and councils to use our product in everything from roads to carparks and racetracks to runways.

“We are very proud to add Springfield to our growing list of clients and welcome them onboard as the first house builder in the UK to use waste plastic in their roads and we look forward to working with them again.

“We also hope this pioneering project will inspire other developers in Scotland to follow Springfield’s lead as our product is available across the country as well as the UK and abroad.”



Government to pay £200m for safer cladding on Grenfell Tower

The £200m bill to replace Grenfell Tower-type cladding on about 150 private high-rise blocks in England is to be met by the government.

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire had previously said the bill should be footed by the owners, not the taxpayer.

But he said owners had been trying to offload the costs on to leaseholders and that the long wait for remedial work had caused anxiety for residents.

Leaseholder groups said the news would be a “relief” but more was needed.

Seventy-two people died when a fire destroyed Grenfell Tower, in west London, in June 2017, in one of the UK’s worst modern disasters.

It took minutes for the fire to race up the exterior of the building, and spread to all four sides.

A public inquiry into the fire heard evidence to support the theory that the highly combustible material in the cladding was the primary cause of the fire’s spread.

Latest government figures show that 166 private residential buildings out of the 176 identified with aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding – the same type used on Grenfell Tower – are yet to start work on removing and replacing it.

  • Unsafe cladding still affects thousands
  • Stars in emotional Grenfell cladding video
  • The terrible speed with which the Grenfell fire spread

Mr Brokenshire admitted he had changed his mind on demanding that freeholders pay up for safety work.

He said some building owners had tried to pass on the costs to residents by threatening them with bills running to thousands of pounds.

“What has been striking to me over recent weeks is just the time it is taking and my concern over the leaseholders themselves – that anxiety, that stress, that strain, and seeing that we are getting on and making these buildings safe.”

Alex Di Giuseppe, a leaseholder in a block with unsafe cladding in Manchester, said he has been dealing with the developer, freeholder and management agent but had got nowhere.

“It’s taken its toll. We’ve been living in an unsafe building and we’ve had these huge costs placed upon our heads. The stress is insurmountable.

“If this was a car with an airbag issue, it would be recalled.”

Pemberstone, Aberdeen Asset Management, Barratt Developments, Fraser Properties, Legal & General and Mace and Peabody were named as having fully borne the costs for their buildings.

Grenfell United, a group of survivors and the bereaved, said the news offered hope to people feeling at risk at home.

“This result is a testament to residents themselves. The truth is we should never have had to fight for it,” the group said.

It asked the government to consider financial support for residents as they continue night watches and wait for the remediation work to begin.

Rachel Loudain, from the UK Cladding Action Group, said leaseholders had exhausted all other options before the government stepped in to pay for the work.

“No developer was taking responsibility, no freeholder, we didn’t have any option legally or any option with insurance,” she said.

The group welcomed the news but pointed out that “many, many” leaseholders and social housing tenants living in blocks with other forms of unsafe cladding would be excluded from this help.

“Fire does not distinguish between the different types of failed cladding out there. This inadequate response will be looked back on in shame when the next Grenfell tragedy occurs,” the group said.

Labour accused the government of being “frozen like a rabbit in the headlights” in its response to the Grenfell disaster.

“Too weak and too slow to act at every stage and on every front,” the shadow housing secretary John Healey said.

The government has already committed to funding replacement cladding in the social sector. There are currently 23 blocks still covered in it.

Owners of private buildings will have three months to claim the funds, with one condition being that they take “reasonable steps” to recover the costs from those responsible for the cladding.


Ekodek Board System

Ecodek have been producing their unique ecodek® WPC board system for over 14 years. In 2018, the production of ecodek® material consumed more than 3600 tonnes of recycled plastic milk bottles and sustainably sourced hardwood fibres.

With the versatility to adapt to urban or traditional design schemes, ecodek® will allow the designer to transform outdoor spaces and gardens into feature areas. They have produced a range of specific screws, substructure bearers and beams specifically designed for their boards.

ecodek® can be found across the UK and beyond, in residential settings and in public realm areas such as balconies, roof terraces, walkways, bridges, schools, care homes, stadia and restaurants.

Offering bespoke lengths to suit individual projects means a welcome relief on site to the usual problem of waste materials. ecodek® material is 100% recyclable, should any waste be generated on site, their buy back scheme means that this can be sent back to the factory and put back into the production of new boards.

The boards will not warp, splinter or rot, and as ecodek® does not promote mould or algae growth, only require minimal maintenance, and do not require sanding or sealing.

ecodek® material comes with a 25 year warranty as standard, giving piece of mind to both specifier and end user.

Here’s a re-cap of the benefits of ecodek® boards over traditional timber decking:

  • High quality, British made Wood Plastic Composite
  • ecodek® contains 95% recycled and sustainably raw materials and is 100% recyclable
  • Low maintenance – doesn’t require sanding or staining
  • Solid profile that is resistant to rotting, algae and fungal growth plus, no splintering, splitting or flaking­­­
  • Low potential for slip in both wet and dry (tested to HSE standards)
  • Bespoke lengths
  • Easy as timber to work with
  • Low moisture absorption
  • In-built termite and UV resistance
  • Carbon negative production
  • 25 year warranty

Source: UK Construction Week

house funding

Labour will end slum office housing

Labour says it would scrap a government scheme that allows offices and industrial buildings to be converted into homes without planning permission.

The party said changes to permitted development rules in England had led to the creation of “slum housing and rabbit hutch flats”.

It also said developers had been able to avoid building affordable homes.

The Conservatives said the plans would “cut house building and put a stop to people achieving home ownership”.

In 2013, the government changed planning rules to allow developers to turn offices, warehouses and industrial buildings into residential blocks without getting permission from the local council, in a bid to boost house building.

The rules have since been further relaxed, leading to 42,000 new dwellings being created from former offices in the last few years.

However, permitted development schemes are exempt from official space standards and also from any requirement to provide affordable homes.

Labour said the policy had seen the loss of more than 10,000 affordable homes, and meant that flats “just a few feet wide” were now counted in official statistics as new homes.

It said its policy was still to build 250,000 new homes a year in England with 100,000 being “genuinely affordable”.

“This Conservative housing free-for-all gives developers a free hand to build what they want but ignore what local communities need,” said John Healey, Labour’s shadow housing secretary.

“Labour will give local people control over the housing that gets built in their area and ensure developers build the low-cost, high-quality homes that the country needs.”

In one permitted development scheme at Newbury House in Ilford, an office block has been turned into 60 flats measuring as little as 13 sq metres each.

According to national space standards, the minimum floor area for a new one-bedroom one-person home is 37 sq metres.

Critics say the schemes can be damaging to residents’ mental wellbeing, as well as being miles from amenities and conducive to crime.

At Terminus House – a converted office block in Harlow – crime jumped 45% in the first 10 months after people moved in and by 20% within that part of the town centre.

However some developers warn that without permitted development many office to residential schemes would no longer be viable.

The government says the rules are helping tackle the housing crisis and allowing people to get on the housing ladder.

Of the 13,526 homes delivered under permitted development last year, more than three quarters were built outside of London

Marcus Jones, Conservative vice-chair for Local Government, said: “Labour’s plans would cut house building and put a stop to people achieving homeownership.

“We are backing permitted development rights, which are converting dormant offices into places families can call home.

“Whilst Labour put politics before our families, the Conservatives are delivering the houses this country needs so every family has a place to call home.”



UK goes coal-free for record-breaking 90 hours during hot Easter weekend weather

Britain has broken its record for using energy generated from sources other than coal during the hot Easter weekend.

National Grid said the UK recorded its longest ever continuous coal-free period over the bank holiday weekend, lasting more than 90 hours.

It marks the longest stretch of time in which the UK’s electricity has been produced by other means since before the industrial revolution, which began in the 1700s.

Duncan Burt, director of operations at National Grid, said the long weekend marked “another significant step towards a zero-carbon power grid” in the UK.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each enjoyed their warmest Easter Sunday on record, according to the Met Office said.

Mr Burt said the previous record was broken thanks to a “sweet spot” in conditions, where the warm weather stopped people from using their central heating, overall energy usage went down due to more people being outside, but temperatures were not so warm that people needed to stay indoors and use air conditioning.

He said ideal conditions for the National Grid see warm sunshine in the south and wind in the North and in Scotland, creating conditions that mean a high production of both solar and wind power.

Over the bank holiday, gas still made up a sizeable chunk of electricity usage, and Britain was still required to import power from Europe. Nuclear energy made up about 25 per cent.

A report published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) earlier this year showed the UK used more coal-free power in the first three months of 2019 than in the entirety of 2017.

Energy and Clean Growth minister Claire Perry said: “Coal is the most polluting fossil fuel, which is why we’ve committed to phasing it out entirely from our energy mix by 2025 as we help lead the world in the transition to cleaner technologies.”

But environmental campaigners have warned that while an increase in renewable energy is positive, gas and other fossil fuels are also replacing coal.

Muna Suleiman, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, told the BBC: “89 hours of coal-free electricity is great, but let’s make this all day every day.

“Electricity generated by renewable sources is a key part of the fight against climate chaos, so it’s time to remove all the blockers to renewable energy.

“The Government must prioritise the development of sources such as solar and onshore wind.”

The Labour Party has also questioned Government policy, and said its fracking plans will release the same amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as creating 300 million brand news cars.

A reliance on gas also makes the UK vulnerable to international markets, according to Friends of the Earth, which said the energy source isn’t clean enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions in line with the country’s legal targets.

The 2008 Climate Change Act requires greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced by 80 per cent – when compared to 1990 levels – by 2050.