Tuesday, 17 April 2012

David Cameron halts compulsory green deal policy on home improvements

Ministers will reject moves that require homeowners to make their properties energy efficient before building extensions

Will the public now be encouraged to invest in home improvements? Is this good news for the merchants as it might generate new business? Equally, the loss of the potential 'add on' business might hit the merchants as well as the energy efficiency drive. Read on and judge for yourself.

All the mandatory elements of the government's "Green deal" for homes are to be scrapped following an intervention by the prime minister.

The decision, which is a blow for the Liberal Democrats, means that the government will reject proposals currently out for consultation by the Department for Communities and Local Government that would have required homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient if they were undertaking home improvements, such as extending a garage or replacing windows.

It is also a blow to the Liberal Democrat communities and local government minister Andrew Stunell, the advocate of the proposal in the department run by Eric Pickles.

Stunell had proposed that any homeowner intending to make a property more energy-hungry by building an extension, should redress the balance by improving insulation, upgrading a boiler or adding better heating controls.

The homeowner would be required to spend 10% in addition to the cost of the main works; so if building a £1,000 new patio, an additional £100-worth of energy efficiency measures, such as loft or cavity insulation would have to be installed.

The money would go to local contractors, paid for through cheap finance provided by the green deal and repaid through subsequent lower energy bills.

A government source said: "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. 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."

The source stressed that Number 10 was not opposed to the green deal itself so long as it remained voluntary.

The collapse of the compulsory proposals puts new pressure on the target of persuading tens of thousands of homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient, with only the incentive of saving money on energy bills in the long term. It will also be a blow to the construction industry.

When it launched the consultation in January, the department had been enthusiastic, saying a typical home could save as much as £150 a year.

Stunell himself claimed that "a quarter of the carbon emissions produced each year come from our homes, so it is vital we get to grips with energy efficiency to tackle this problem".

Around 45% of UK carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings, principally space heating and cooling, water heating, lighting and other fixed systems – energy uses which are covered by the building regulations.

Consequential improvements are already required for buildings over 1000m² which have an extension added, but this excludes most homes.

Around 200,000 domestic extensions, loft conversions and integral garage conversions are carried out per year. These are works which generally result in increased energy use and carbon emissions from the home.

Find out further information on the Green Deal.

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Original article can be found here
Patrick Wintour - The Guardian

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