Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has been facing legal action from the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) for ditching rules that would require household extensions to include energy efficiency improvements to the existing building.

The judge ruled that a Government minister is entitled to make any policy decision he considers appropriate, provided he has “genuinely considered” representations made during the consultation.

In March, the ACE announced that it would go ahead with legal proceedings against Pickles for his decision.

Pickles issued a public consultation in January proposing that, when households erect extensions or convert garages, around 10% further of that cost should be spent on improving the energy efficiency of the original building, known as ‘consequential improvements’.

However, the outcome went in Pickles’ favour with the judge stating that it was not relevant that 82% of those responding to the consultation had endorsed his original proposal.

According to the judge, there were a minority who had rejected the idea and Pickles was entitled to rule in their favour, adding that Ministers are entitled to change their minds.

ACE said that this was the first time any organisation had ever sought to challenge through the courts why a government proposal had not gone ahead, a challenge that the judge accepted as legitimate.

In a statement, the ACE said: “We are very disappointed that as a result the £11bn worth of extra construction activity which Mr Pickles’ department originally identified as likely to be delivered by consequential improvements will not now be realised.

“Nor will the 130 million tonnes of CO2 lifetime savings be delivered. Nor will we see the extra 2.2 million Green Deals he forecast it would deliver,” it added.

Leigh Stringer

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