The Irish government has protected the concrete industry for the past five years causing 250,000 energy inefficient homes to be built, Century Homes chief executive Gerry McCaughey has claimed.

Presenting evidence to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the environment and local government of anti-competitive practices last week, he said the Department of the Environment had delayed the introduction of new energy efficient building standards between 1998-2003 because they would have a negative effect on 9in hollow block and cavity wall construction in Ireland.

He said: “Because of the delay the department has knowingly allowed 250,000 houses to be built to energy inefficient standards, just to protect the market position of the concrete industry. When the new EU home energy rating certificate is introduced, homeowners will pay the price when they sell buildings with a poor energy rating.”

Mr McCaughey said that in 1998 Century Homes took part in a study which found that timber frame houses showed a reduction of 7.5 tonnes of CO2 per year when compared with a traditionally constructed house.

He sent the findings to the Department of the Environment but said he received a “flippant reply”. He then requested a copy of his company’s file through the Freedom of Information Act which, he said, included a confidential memo which admitted that out of date building regulations would have to be revised, but this was not to be publicised as it would make it difficult for hollow block construction to survive.

Mr McCaughey said the result was 250,000 houses built to an energy efficiency standard 35% below what they should have been and that more could be built until the end of 2005.

Oireachtas join committee members are to ask the Minister of the Environment for an explanation and have recommended that Mr McCaughey’s document should be sent to the Competitions Authority.