David Cameron may well have scuppered the proposed obligation under the Green Deal that homeowners adding a conservatory or other significant home improvement should also improve their energy efficiency, but he’s not going to get away with that lightly. Indeed the latest broadside in the row has been delivered against the PM by no less than celebrity Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud.
McCloud began by leading a ‘green backlash’ against negative media coverage which dubbed the proposal a ‘conservatory tax’. The UK Green Building Council supported him by accusing the government of staging a U-turn and “having no backbone on green issues.” Yesterday the furore grew so loud that the PM himself stepped in recommending that the plan be dropped. However, the proposal would have been possible to implement at very little extra cost to homeowners, since the money would have been quickly recovered through lower energy bills with initial costs largely being met by private companies implementing the Green Deal.
Defending the mandatory requirements, McCloud said: “Government’s plans to require homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their home when they build an extension are about as sensible as sensible gets, especially when the homeowner doesn’t have to pay for those improvements. Reading the recent coverage I began to wonder if there was a secret anti-insulation lobby rabidly bent on increasing our domestic fuel bills. Things came to a head with the confabulated notion of a ‘Conservatory Tax’. First, under proposals, conservatories below 30 square metres in size are exempt. Second, common sense prevails in that if projected energy savings fall below the cost of improvements, the homeowner can legitimately refuse to carry them out. Third, the improvements will be eligible for generous green deal funding. The green deal saves you money. If that makes it a tax, let’s have more of them.”
Chief Executive of the UK Green Building Council added: “If these plans are to be scrapped as reports are suggesting, this is another u-turn that shows once and for all that a majority of ministers in this government have no backbone on green issues, even when they save people money, and are good for the economy. Government has a responsibility to look beyond the ludicrous media headlines. This policy would have helped protect ordinary people from soaring energy costs, as well as reduce carbon emissions to meet its own supposedly legally binding carbon budgets. It was also the best tool in the box for driving forward the green deal.”