UP to 50 zero carbon council homes are to be built in the Taunton and Minehead areas over the next two and a half years.

Somerset West and Taunton Council has approved funding for the affordable homes over a number of sites.

The properties will be highly insulated and include onsite renewable heat and energy, making them economic for tenants to run.

A council spokesman said the decision reflects the council’s policy to deliver actions in support of its climate emergency declaration and its commitment to working towards achieving carbon neutrality and climate resilience by 2030.

It also supports the authorities aim to build 1,000 council homes over the next 30 years and will complement council new build schemes currently underway in Priorswood and Laxton Road, Taunton.

Cllr Fran Smith, executive member for housing, said: "I’m proud that we are building our own stock of affordable properties in the district.

"I am delighted that this pilot project has been approved so we can produce more great homes that are truly affordable to those in housing need and require little energy to heat giving additional cost savings to the tenant.

"This approach adopted by the council is very ambitious reflecting our commitment to create new sustainable developments with a mix of modern, energy efficient homes."

The Zero Carbon Affordable Homes pilot scheme will consider all aspects of carbon neutrality and energy use in the production, occupation and repair of the homes.

It is intended that the pilot will help the council establish a zero carbon blueprint to support future schemes including those in the pipeline for West Somerset and rural settlements.

It is hoped that as part of the pilot scheme links can be strengthened with Taunton and Bridgwater College and universities to promote zero carbon building and support the council with data collection and analysis.

Cllr Pilkington, executive member for climate change, said: “SWT aims to enable and support everyone to work towards achieving carbon neutrality and climate resilience by 2030.

"This decision is a mark of how important we all consider the issue to be and is integral to our long term aim of creating a more environmentally responsible council and a sustainable future.

"The council’s intention is for a number houses to be used for limited periods of time as show houses to promote zero carbon living and raise awareness of lifestyle actions we can all take to tackle climate change."

The first of the zero carbon homes are intended to be complete by summer 2021 and the build will continue through to the end of 2022.

The council is working with neighbouring district councils and Somerset County Council to produce a Climate Emergency Strategy which will be published later this year.

The council is also in the process of finalising its own Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience Action Plan which will detail further actions that it will deliver, support and enable in order to work towards its carbon neutrality and climate resilience targets.