Letter to Islington North parliamentary candidates, following Sand Wars screening

At last night’s screening of Sand Wars, it was pointed out that a relatively simple measure that would encourage refurbishment of existing property over new-build development (thus conserving resources and reducing waste), would be to get rid of VAT, currently 20%, which applies to refurbishment but not to new build. Consequently, this morning I sent the following letter to the three Islington North parliamentary candidates for whom I could find emails (Labour, Lib Dem and Green). If I get any responses, I will share them here. Letter as follows:

Dear Jeremy, Caroline and Julian (Alex Burghart: no contact details on website),
I am writing to you as Islington North parliamentary candidates, from Transition Highbury.
Yesterday evening our group  watched a film on the unsustainable consumption of sand, mainly by development of infrastructure and housing, in the form of reinforced concrete. This is having devastating and widespread consequences globally, and is a very neglected issue. It is also obviously a very complex one, not least because concrete is such a useful building material.
There were several architects and people from the building industry in the audience, and it emerged that one relatively simple, helpful measure would be to eliminate the VAT (20%) currently levied on building refurbishment — but not on new build. This in effect makes it cheaper in many cases to demolish and replace old buildings than to conserve them — whereas conservation would protect all the embodied materials and energy they represent. Simply reversing the situation would provide an incentive to conserve — thus supporting aspirations to have a more circular economy, which is now espoused by all parties, as far as I am aware — and would reduce need for raw materials, including sand.
I wonder of you could let us know: (a) whether this is something about which your party has a specific policy proposal; (b) if so what; and (c) if not, whether you would campaign on this measure in future?
We look forward to your response,
Best wishes,
Lindy Sharpe
Transition Highbury