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Spring Statement: Energy sector gives Future Homes Standard lukewarm response

Image: HMG.

Image: HMG.

The green economy has responded to chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement in lukewarm fashion, with feedback flitting between ‘genuine steps forward’ and ‘fiddling… while the planet burns’.

While policies concerning the electricity transition were thin on the ground, there was a strong focus on domestic energy consumption with Hammond’s proposals for a new ‘Future Homes Standard’ set to ensure all new homes are built without fossil fuel heating and to a “world-leading” energy efficiency standard by 2025.

The Committee on Climate Change welcomed the announcement, having spent much of the last few years calling for more stringent measures to tackle energy inefficient housing and a lack of carbon emissions reductions from the built environment.

Chris Stark, chief executive at the CCC, said the plans represented a “genuine step forward” in reducing UK emissions.

Lawrence Slade, chief executive at trade association Energy UK, also welcomed the proposals, stating them to be positive steps forward.

The news was particularly - and perhaps predictably - warmly received by those directly involved with the domestic energy efficiency sector. Simon Daniel, chief executive at battery storage and energy technology firm Moixa, described the proposed Future Homes Standard, as a step in the right direction, adding that he welcomed additional policies to support the adoption of domestic energy efficiency measures.

But Maria Connolly, partner at law firm TLT, drew a stark parallel between the proposed Future Home Standard and the looming policy gap facing domestic solar PV installs.

“The introduction of a Future Homes Standard by 2025 to ensure that new build homes are future-proofed with low-carbon heating and the highest levels of energy efficiency certainly looks to be a good proposal, but we should also be looking at how we can better incentivise new housing developments to incorporate clean energy technologies such as solar PV or wind turbines, combined with storage capacity,” she said.

Rumours about the announcement of a future home energy efficiency standard had circulated in the build-up to the Spring Statement earlier this week, with many stories quick to highlight how the Zero Carbon Homes policy, which would have been in place by now had it not been axed by the newly-elected Conservative government just months into its tenure in 2015, stood to achieve just that.

Given that Hammond’s new policy would not be in effect for another six years, there is likely to be at least some consideration over what improvement will have been lost before then.

Dave Timms, head of political affairs at Friends of the Earth, accused the chancellor of “fiddling in the margins while the planet burns”.

“With the government enthusiastically backing more runways, more roads and fracking, it’s little wonder the UK is likely to miss future climate targets.

“The chancellor should have announced a massive programme of investment in home insulation and public transport, instead of pushing the false solution of carbon off-setting for aviation,” he said.

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