SEA Christmas Reception – a cold but inspiring evening
The Sustainable Energy Association’s Christmas reception on the terrace of the House of Commons in December was a memorable night. It was an excellent opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made in 2017 and to welcome the Clean Growth Strategy. It was also an opportunity to highlight how much more needs to be done, particularly to improve the quality of both new and existing homes. The event was sponsored by SEA members BNP Paribas Personal Finance and Arensis, an international provider of off-grid energy. Minister for Business and Industry, Richard Harrington, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change Lord Deben, and Conservative MP David Amess also spoke at the event.
The day of the reception and the previous day saw much travel disruption due to snow in the UK and the evening of the reception was an extremely cold one. The heating on House of Commons Terrace appeared to be no better equipped for the bad weather than our transport system. Fortunately, turnout was very good despite the weather, and excellent speakers, canapes and wine were in plentiful supply. However, heat – sustainable or otherwise – was not. Networking opportunities were improved however as we huddled together to keep warm!
I opened the event by welcoming the Clean Growth Strategy, its ambition to make all homes EPC Band C and the change to boiler regulations, all things the SEA has campaigned for. I also called for higher standards for new and existing homes and for affordable homes to be affordable to heat.
Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change echoed my concerns about building standards. As always, he made excellent points and managed to be highly entertaining as he did so. Even on a very cold evening Lord Deben can warm up a crowd! He noted that if we are to meet the carbon targets that Parliament has signed up to we need to build homes to much higher standards. He described it as ‘utterly unacceptable’ to build one million unsuitable homes and stressed that we will make the situation worse year on year if we don’t build homes to a proper standard.
BEIS Minister, Richard Harrington complimented the work of the Sustainable Energy Association and highlighted the high regard with which the organisation is held by the Department (BEIS). The Minister remarked on the change in attitudes towards sustainable energy and stressed that it is now recognised not only as compatible with, but also an important part of, economic growth.
Funding is very important for any sector and none more so that in energy efficiency and sustainable energy, so it was great that both of our sponsors highlighted funding. Paul Kearsley, Head of Business Development Home Improvements at BNP Paribas spoke about the company’s commitment to providing funding for green initiatives and Julien Uhlig, Arensis CEO, highlighted the importance of Government support for the biomass sector and how supportive policy had encouraged his company’s significant investment in the UK.
David Amess Conservative MP for Southend West, called on all attendees to support the Domestic Properties (Minimum Energy Performance) Bill, which he is introducing as a Private Members Bill early in 2018. This Bill commits the government to bring all homes up to EPC Band C by 2035 something which the SEA has been campaigning for.
The event was also an opportunity for attendees to meet the new President of the SEA, Lord Best and to reacquaint with Dave Sowden, former Chief Executive of the SEA who is now happily back to good health. It was a great evening but a cold one – even for a Geordie. I ended the evening wearing my coat and my Newcastle United scarf. I rarely find anyone envious of my Newcastle scarf, but there were a few who were at the SEA Christmas reception. And think of the carbon we saved!
To see the Sustainable Energy Association Christmas 2017 Speeches click here