Historic Bath’s struggle to be both green and pleasant

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Efforts to cut carbon emissions are clashing with attempts to preserve heritage

United States News, United States Headlines

Bath is an extreme example of a trade-off faced by much of the country. Britain has the oldest housing stock in Europe, with one in five homes more than 100 years old. Period features are prized and often protected by law. Yet as efforts to cut carbon emissions intensify, they are clashing with attempts to preserve heritage. It is a “delicate balance”, says Wera Hobhouse, Bath’sand the Liberal Democrats’ climate spokeswoman.

Yet Bath also wants—and is legally required—to preserve its heritage. With immaculate Roman remains and Georgian crescents that spread across the Avon Valley in shades of honey and butter, the city is designated a world heritage site by. About 60% of it is further protected by the government as a conservation area.

The council wants to retrofit them, but planning laws are an obstacle. People in listed buildings should seek permission even before adding a letterbox draught-excluder, advises the Bath Preservation Trust, a doughty 87-year-old charity that reviews planning applications from its office on the Royal Crescent, Bath’s smartest address. Double-glazing is sometimes allowed in listed buildings, but only if it is of the narrowest (and priciest) variety. Wall insulation is hard to get approved.

Solar panels are permitted, but must generally be kept out of sight in shaded roof valleys. Nor can the council allow wind turbines to be erected on the breezy hills around Bath, becauseguards not just the city but its setting. Twenty-three protected viewpoints leave little space to hide a turbine.

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Although I’m always pro carbon neutral, I think bath should rethink how impactful this will be on real estate 🏡

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