The Sustainable Energy Association recognises the importance of reducing energy use in homes and has been campaigning for all homes in England to reach EPC Band C by 2035 for over 2 years, a target which the Government has committed to in the Clean Growth Strategy but has yet to back up to with legislation.
On Friday 7th February 2020, the Domestic Premises (Energy Performance) Bill sponsored by Lord Foster of Bath, had its second reading in Parliament. Lord Foster outlined how the Bill aims to increase the energy efficiency of domestic properties and he closed by stating that the simple Bill “has far-reaching implications for our quest to tackle climate change, not least, help the less well-off as we do so”.
Following Lord Foster’s introduction, Lord Best (President of the SEA), Lord Deben (Chair of the Committee on Climate Change), Lord Whitty (Member of the Food, Poverty, Health and the Environment Committee), Lord Redesdale (CEO of the Energy Managers Assocation), Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, Lord Cormack, Lord Teverson and Lord McNicol of West Kilbride all gave support for the Bill stressing its importance in meeting climate change targets and protecting households from fuel poverty.
In response to the Reading and issues raised during the debate, Lord Duncan the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy explained why the Government is currently not able to support the Bill, claiming that it would reduce the flexibility of the Government in setting its strategy that it was currently working on. He gave no explanation of how this could be the case. The SEA believes that that the Bill will not reduce flexibility and will increase confidence across industry. The Bill places a requirement on BEIS to develop a strategy to deliver the target yet does not dictate how the target should be achieved.
The reading was accompanied by welcome statements from Lord Duncan, who committed that new homes will be regulated to new housing standards from 2025, including homes under construction. This statement came after Lord Duncan was challenged by Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, who strongly supported the Bill and also went on to challenge new build standards, stating:
“Houses which are built now, should meet levels higher than EPC Band C; this should be a minimum requirement. Between now and 2035 there will be 3 million new homes which, under the current measures, will not meet the standard government is trying to reach by this date.”
The SEA has been advocating a tightening of the transitional arrangements for new homes to ensure that housing created today will not need to be retrofitted later as they will be built to higher standards and be future-proofed. The commitment from Lord Duncan is therefore welcome and we await the government’s response to the recent consultation on the Future Homes Standard.
The Bill will now progress to the Committee stage. The SEA will be gathering support from industry and across Parliament over the coming weeks to highlight the importance of the Bill and encourage Ministers to support its introduction. We will be hosting a series of events and seeking written support from organisations and individuals who would like to see this target legislated. To support the EPC band C campaign to help create homes that are warm, affordable to live in and have lower carbon emissions in line with net-zero, please click here.