19 October 2021
Dunne: Heat & Buildings Strategy a positive start

South Shropshire MP, Philip Dunne, has welcomed publication of the government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy, setting out plans to reduce emissions from the built environment.

As part of the strategy, the government has announced new grants of £5,000 will be available from April next year to encourage homeowners to install more efficient, low carbon heating systems – like heat pumps that do not emit carbon when used – through a new £450 million 3-year Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is part of more than £3.9 billion of new funding for decarbonising heat and buildings. This will fund the next 3 years of investment through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, the Home Upgrade Grant scheme, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and the Heat Networks Transformation Programme and reducing carbon emissions from public buildings through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

No-one will be forced to remove their existing fossil fuel boilers, with this transition of the next 14 years seeing the UK’s households gradually move away from fossil fuel boilers, enabling homeowners to make these green choices more readily when the time comes to replace their old fossil fuel boiler.

Reacting to the Heat and Buildings Strategy, which has been published this afternoon, Mr Dunne, who Chairs the Environmental Audit Committee, said:

“The Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy is a positive start and gives the demand signal industry has been waiting for as we move to stem the colossal emissions from our homes. The allocation of £3.9 billion to decarbonise buildings over the next three years is a significant move ahead of COP26.

“However, the policy is yet to meet the ambition with heat pump installations, in particular for owner occupiers. Ministers have previously announced the target to install 600,000 heat pumps by 2028, yet the announcement today only supports installation of 90,000 over the next three years. This is a good start but is less than offered initially through the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution announced last year. As yet, there is little acknowledgment that effective use of heat pumps requires buildings to be properly insulated. Our Committee’s evidence highlighted that insulation costs can double the current cost of a heat pump for many of the19 million homes that are older and have an EPC rating of less than C.

“Offering grants for heat pump installation can incentivise consumers, but with charges on electricity bills rather than gas, there is little to incentivise the ongoing costs. Our Committee called for moving these levies on to gas bills rather than electricity bills, and I welcome the Government announcement of consultation with a view to taking this forward.

“Cautious – but encouraging – steps have been taken to advance the use of hydrogen in our energy mix within the Government’s plans. It is welcome that the Government is awaiting trials of hydrogen being used in our gas mains before deciding whether to proceed in 2026.”