David Cameron has intervened in the growing row over the government proposal to make energy efficiency upgrades compulsory whenever householders carry out significant home improvements such as conservatories, extensions and boiler replacements. The proposals which have now been put out to consultation will be rejected by the government, which will come as a blow to Andrew Stunell, the Communities and Local Government Minister, who first proposed the idea.
The measures would have meant householders having to spend a further 10% on top of the cost of the original work, such that a project costing £1000 would have had to been accompanied by £100 worth of energy efficiency upgrades such as cavity wall or loft insulation, boiler replacement or improving heating controls. The government’s original argument was that the money would have been recovered through lower energy bills later on.
“The idea that people are going to be forced to improve their energy efficiency or install a new boiler because they want to extend their garage or make their house better is not going to happen” said a government spokesperson. “It is not policy now. It is out for consultation, but the prime minister is opposed to it, and it will not become policy. It is not fair to ordinary people trying to improve their homes.”
According to The Guardian this development will put further pressure on the Green Deal itself by relaxing the conditions under which householders are encouraged to improve their property energy efficiency. It also has worrying implications for the government objective to reduce carbon emissions by a further 13% by 2020. There has been significant criticism over the past few months concerning the ability of the scheme to deliver such an outcome. The news of David Cameron’s objections to the mandatory requirements emerges shortly after it became clear that top Tory Ministers, including Eric Pickles, want the whole scheme scrapped. Downing Street however has said that it is not opposed to the Green Deal as a whole, merely any mandatory requirements which would place further strain on householders during the current recession.
Around 45% of UK carbon emissions originate from the housing sector.