ACE has today joined with nearly 30 other civil society organisations in issuing a joint statement calling on the Government to lay without delay tough, enforceable regulations to introduce a minimum energy efficiency standard in the private rented sector. The sector has the highest proportion of the very worst homes (those in EPC Bands F and G) – with nearly half the households living in them suffering from fuel poverty. The Energy Act 2011 required the Government to bring forward regulations to introduce a minimum energy efficiency standard, expected to be set at Band E. However, these regulations look likely to be laid at least a year later than expected, leaving landlords and tenants alike facing uncertainty and confusion. We are therefore calling on the Government to lay the regulations as soon as possible, to specify that the standard will be Band E in all circumstances and to ensure that exemptions will be kept to an absolute minimum.
ACE and Friends of the Earth have long been concerned about the poor standards of energy efficiency (and high concentrations of fuel poor and vulnerable households) in the private rented sector (PRS). The PRS is a rapidly growing part of the housing market. Of the 22.8m households in England in 2011, 4 million were privately rented (17.5% of the housing stock). This was an increase of 1.6m in only six years – and is the highest level since the early 1990s. The Department for Communities and Local Government has issued a review of property conditions in the PRS, and invited stakeholder responses; ACE and Friends of the Earth have provided theirs together.
This week, local government secretary Eric Pickles’ department will table a last minute amendment to a Cabinet Office deregulation bill. Its text is set out below. The objective is clear. It is to stop any English local authority from ever again being able to set any energy standards for any building even marginally better better than the ones Pickles allows. Or rather, than the volume house-builders are prepared grudgingly to accept.
What is most disgraceful is that the original “localism” legislation, which allowed progressive authorities to promote greater energy efficiency, was put onto the statute book as the Planning and Energy Act in 2008 by the current energy minister Michael Fallon when a backbencher. He took up this private members’ bill very much at the instigation of the then Conservative party chairman, then loudly embracing the “go green, vote blue” banner. And who was then the Conservative party chairman? None other than Eric Pickles himself.
Since he became Community Secretary in 2010, Pickles has time and again proved himself to be hostile to energy saving. He has delayed the introduction of the new building regulations by 12 months, to April 2014 rather than 2013, and lowered their energy saving requirements way below the levels consulted upon.
The 2008 Act has succeeded in delivering higher standards of energy efficiency in new buildings, and so reducing future running costs for occupants. Particularly well-known examples are the Greater London Authority, set to deliver 40% higher than Pickles’ standards in 2016, and Cambridge City Council .
Pickles has long been a poodle of the big housing developers, whose commercial interests to spend as little as possible installing measures to cut fuel bills have promoted this personal U-turn. And because new property owners will as a consequence be paying higher than needed fuel bills, he has also shown that his concern is to maximise the profits of the big energy companies, rather than helping hard-pressed households enjoy lower fuel bills.
The original Act was also trumpeted by Pickles as representing a victory for localism, permitting councils to include higher than minimum standards in their local plans. Now however Pickles believes that the man in Whitehall – in other words, him – always knows best. And local authorities should just do what they are told.
This government amendment means that, yet again, Eric Pickles’ Communities Department , by promoting this mean-minded little clause, is determined upon undermining the Prime Minister’s declared objective to make the UK the most energy efficient country in Europe.
He is not content with having watered down the new national energy efficiency building regulations, which come into force next month – a year late, and with just a 6% rather than the anticipated 25% improvement on the old requirements.
He is now denying any opportunity for more progressive councils to continue setting higher standards than his minimum.
Purpose of this paper
The genesis of this paper was the speech made by the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, the Rt Hon Edward Davey MP, at a reception on the Terrace of the House of Commons on September 3 hosted by this Association.
In his speech, he challenged the Association, on behalf of our industry, to put forward recommendations as to how the effectiveness of the Green Deal/ECO programmes might be improved immediately. This paper sets out a series of practical proposals regarding ways in which a series of operational issues should be addressed.
The domestic renewable energy industry has condemned the Government’s suggestion to do away with the 2008 Planning and Energy Act. The Act, promoted by Michael Fallon, who is now Energy Minister, provides local authorities with the ability to set specific carbon, renewable energy and energy efficiency targets for new build properties (the so-called ‘Merton Rule’). The suggestion is part of the Government’s consultation on the Housing Standards Review, published yesterday.
The recent update to national Building Regulations did not impose strict enough carbon reduction targets to incentivise the integration of on-site renewables (such as solar energy systems, heat pumps and biomass boilers) into new properties. DCLG admitted this in its Impact Assessment. The Planning and Energy Act’s ‘Merton Rule’ is therefore the only policy tool explicitly incentivising on-site renewables in new homes, and must remain available to local authorities at least until Building Regulations are sufficiently strong to drive uptake of on-site renewables in new homes (which will not be before 2016 at the earliest).
Responding to DECC’s announcement of a new fuel poverty definition for England and a new framework for future action on fuel poverty, ACE’s Head of Parliamentary Team Jenny Holland said:
“The Fuel Poverty Strategy produced pursuant to the WHECA 2000 placed a duty on the Government to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016. It has been apparent for many years that successive Governments have failed to do enough to be credibly on track to meet this target. In addition, by today adopting a relative definition of fuel poverty, it becomes impossible for them to meet the target as currently expressed.
“It has been our long-held view that fuel poverty-proofing our inefficient housing stock is the only permanent solution to the scourge of fuel poverty. We therefore welcome as a step in the right direction the Government’s stated intention to adopt a new target to improve the energy efficiency of the homes of the fuel poor. We shall be urging the Government to adopt a credible, adequately resourced and ambitious target – both in terms of the level of energy efficiency improvement and the number of homes to be improved.”
Reacting to today’s publication by DECC of the Green Deal statistics up to June, the Association for the Conservation of Energy called the figures “disappointing”, highlighting in particular the 88% drop in insulation installations compared with the same period last year. They called for a raft of interventions to help boost the Government’s flagging flagship scheme.
Jenny Holland, Head of ACE’s Parliamentary Team, said:
“The Government was bracing itself for today’s statistics – and rightly so. Over 38,000 assessments have yielded only 245 requests for Green Deal plans, with only 4 of these actually signed. Given earlier Government predictions of 10,000 Green Deal plans in 2013, the scheme would need to ramp up 2,500-fold in the next six months in order to achieve these dizzy ambitions.
“As we have warned for many months, the insulation industry has been particularly badly hit – with installations of cavity wall, loft and solid wall insulation dropping by around 88% on the equivalent period last year. These installation rates are respectively only 5%, 8% and 7% of what the Committee on Climate Change told us yesterday we need to be achieving to be on track to meet our 2022 carbon target.“Today’s statistics reveal how urgent it is to launch a rescue package for this flagging flagship scheme. The Government need to take a long hard look at how high interest rates are deterring consumers. They should urgently consider introducing council tax or stamp duty incentives to help boost take-up – something they have been considering for years, but have apparently kicked into the long grass.
“They should also ditch the requirement for measures delivered under the cash-back scheme to be installed by an approved Green Deal provider, thereby excluding many reputable local builders and heating engineers from participating. Finally, they should reverse their perverse decision not to go ahead with plans to require householders who erect extensions or convert their garages to make further energy efficiency improvements to the original building – a policy that they themselves said would lead to energy saving improvements to 2.2 million homes.
“It’s not surprising that DECC chose to bury today’s statistics under seven other announcements. The Green Deal is falling well short of being the “game-changer” that Government Ministers promised us it would be – they must act swiftly and decisively to put it back on track.”
News release from the Association for the Conservation of Energy
For immediate release: Monday 13 May 2013
Scottish Government Ministers are coming under increasing pressure not to backtrack on their plans for greener buildings. The Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE)  today warned there would be a “severe and damaging impact” if as feared there is a delay and watering down of green standards for new homes. In a strongly-worded letter to John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth and Derek Mackay, Minister for Local Government and Planning, in the Scottish Government, they urged the Government to stick to its original roadmap – the so-called Sullivan Report – to deliver very low carbon new buildings in 2013 and zero-carbon new buildings in 2016.
In the letter, released today, Andrew Warren, Director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, said,
”You have announced your intention that the 2013 changes to Section 6 (Energy) of Building Standards be delayed until 2014 and watered down from the roadmap set out in the 2007 Sullivan Report, and previously accepted by your Government. Now the Sullivan panel is re-convening, with the impression being given that their remit is to further delay and water down the 2016 changes to Section 6.
If this occurs, the effect on this industry will be severe and damaging, as those who know – the leaders of major companies concerned with this market – testify.
I urge you to implement the original Sullivan recommendations urgently.”
The Sullivan panel was set up in 2007 to fulfil an SNP manifesto pledge to “establish an expert panel to report on the changes we need to make to building regulations in Scotland to increase energy efficiency” . The Sullivan report recommended introduction of low carbon new buildings in 2010; very low carbon new buildings in 2013 and zero-carbon new buildings in 2016 . The recommendations were accepted and endorsed by Stewart Stevenson MSP, then Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change.
The current Minister for Local Government and Planning, Derek Mackay MSP, announced his intention in December 2012 that the Government would consult on introducing new standards in 2014 which offered only a minor improvement over current standards, and delaying the implementation by a year, contrary to the Sullivan recommendations . The consultation launched in January 2013 and proposed a 21% improvement, well below the Sullivan recommendations. Mr Mackay then reconvened the Sullivan panel in May 2013 with a remit to “revisit” the original recommendations in light of the economic downturn post-2007. The clear implication is that the 2016 zero-carbon standards would be delayed and watered down.
Senior Press & Parliamentary Officer
Association for the Conservation of Energy
Notes to editors
 The Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) is a lobbying, campaigning and policy research organisation, and has worked in the field of energy efficiency since 1981. Our lobbying and campaigning work represents the interests of our membership: major manufacturers and distributors of energy saving equipment in the United Kingdom. ACE is a member of both Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and the Scottish Fuel Poverty Forum.
More info from our website:
 The full text of the letter follows (and is also available here: Section 6 letter May 2013)
Please don’t damage our industry
Open letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth John Swinney MSP and the Minister for Local Government and Planning Derek Mackay MSP
Dear Cabinet Secretary, Dear Minister,
Section 6 (Energy) of Building Standards
You have announced your intention that the 2013 changes to Section 6 (Energy) of Building Standards be delayed until 2014 and watered down from the roadmap set out in the 2007 Sullivan Report, and previously accepted by your Government. Now the Sullivan panel is re-convening, with the impression being given that their remit is to further delay and water down the 2016 changes to Section 6.
If this occurs, the effect on this industry will be severe and damaging, as those who know – the leaders of major companies concerned with this market – testify.
I urge you to implement the original Sullivan recommendations urgently.
Andrew Warren, Director
Association for the Conservation of Energy
‘Less investment and fewer jobs’
Robert Barclay, Managing Director (UK) and ROI of SIG plc:
“The lack of clarity from the Scottish Government on Section 6 2013 is unhelpful. Our company has made a significant investment against the backdrop of the stated Section 6 timetable comprising two joint ventures centred around the marketing of high energy performance building systems and a team of specialist people with the sole aim of advising the house building community as to the most effective product solutions required to meet the revised regulations.
“If the Section 6 2013 amendment is postponed/withdrawn this is not only disappointing for those who endeavour to differentiate through innovation but it will further knock confidence in our business and the wider sector which will inevitably result in less investment and fewer jobs.”
SIG plc is UK largest distributor of insulation and related products, employing 3,500 people.
John Sinfield, Managing Director, Knauf Insulation Northern Europe:
“The expected amendments to Section 6 offer a real opportunity to increase investment as well as secure job opportunities, and also future proof the UK’s homes against fuel poverty. As a manufacturer, we have invested accordingly, but with no Scottish Government certainty for the industry, the abandoned roadmap to zero carbon represents a significant wasted investment for the energy efficiency sector.”
Knauf Insulation Limited is the leading UK manufacturer of insulation materials. We employ 580 people across four sites in the UK.
‘Damage to a fragile industry’
David Robson, Managing Director, Instagroup:
“Any decision to delay or weaken Section 6 changes will further damage a fragile industry and result in further job losses and will lead to less investment in this industry.”
Instagroup is the leading systems designer for insulation and sponsors the UK’s leading energy efficiency network. Instagroup is a Green Deal provider and has invested in Green Deal finance.
‘A huge impact on our future investment’
Alex McLeod, Chief Executive, Superglass Insulation:
“The timetable for implementation of Section 6 Building Regulation, including a 60% improvement on 2007 standards in the domestic 2013 regulations and a move to Zero Carbon homes in 2016 is critical to investor confidence. Superglass PLC raised substantial investment capital in 2011. Critical to continued investment is confidence in the regulatory framework which is a significant driver of growth in energy efficiency products and service. Any delay in the implementation of Section 6 will have a huge impact on our future investment plans.”
Superglass is one of the last remaining independent building materials manufacturers, and is based in Stirling.
‘Negative impact on export market’
Peter Wilson, Managing Director, Kingspan Insulation:
“Kingspan Insulation has been planning and implementing product developments and improvements in construction best practice and materials to support the Zero Carbon Homes initiative. I therefore find it of great concern that there is a lack of clarity around the Scottish Government’s timetable for the proposed 2013 Section 6 implementation.
“If the Regulations do not meet the standards required by the roadmap for carbon reduction commitment, then investment and growth in the construction sector is likely to be inhibited. This will impact negatively on the ability of manufacturers to invest in developing competitive products for export markets.”
Kingspan Insulation is the largest manufacturer of rigid insulation products in the UK. We employ over 400 people and have over 40% of market share.
Eamon McDonnell, Managing Director Saint-Gobain Isover:
“Delay in the implementation of Section 6 has undermined the roadmap that had been set out to achieve zero carbon homes and will impact on the timing and scale of future investments in glass wool insulation manufacture in the UK. It will also deter innovation in the housing sector and leave new house owners saddled with unnecessarily expensive running costs for their homes.”
Saint-Gobain Isover is the global leader in the manufacture of mineral wool insulation and has been present in the UK as a glass wool manufacturer for over 30 years.
‘A potential blow to the economy’
Jayne Law MBE, Commercial Director, Dow Building Solutions:
“At Dow we believe the proposed changes to Section 6 would have provided substantial environmental and economic benefits. It will be a serious disappointment to those committed to a greener future for Scotland as well as a potential blow to the economy if the clear support within the industry for the introduction of these positive measures is not embraced and taken forward.”
Dow was the sole sponsor of the Energy Efficiency Mission Launch Event at the Royal Society on February 4, at which the Prime Minister gave his long-awaited keynote speech on the importance of energy efficiency to our economy.
‘Small companies should not be penalised’
Nick Hunt, UK Sales Director, Honeywell Control Systems:
“Honeywell is proud to have invested considerable time and effort in developing products and training installers. The good installers who have already embraced the necessary changes would be disadvantaged by having the rug pulled out from under their feet by delays in Section 6. These small companies have invested time and effort in keeping up to date and should not be penalised. Nor should their customers – consumers – be disadvantaged, as they continue to be sold products that may not have the energy efficiency benefits that are included in most modern heating controls.”
Honeywell is a major manufacturer of energy controls, employing over 7,000 people in UK, many in manufacturing facilities. They have facilities in 75 different constituencies, and manufacture in 20 constituencies. The biggest are directly affected by the Building Regulations.
 Scottish Government (2007) A Low Carbon Building Standards Strategy for Scotland (The Sullivan Report)
 Scottish Government press release, 10/12/2012, “Greener buildings”
 Lower Carbon Buildings – a review of energy standards and guidance within Scottish building regulations, Scottish Government, 14 January 2013
 Scottish Government announcement – Sullivan panel to reconvene, April 2013
Open letter to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (The Rt Hon Eric Pickles, MP) and the Minister for Building Regulations (The Rt Hon Don Foster MP). Signed by eight ACE Members, it highlights the risk of damage to the construction industry by letting the Building Regulations Part L implementation schedule slip.
The Government’s Energy Bill is currently being scrutinised in Committee. The draft Bill was heavily criticised for containing no provisions for reducing electricity demand. Since then we have welcomed the publication of a DECC consultation on policy options to encourage permanent reductions in electricity use. However, we are also pushing for the Energy Bill to be amended to require the Government to establish a scheme to incentivise electricity demand reduction within a year of the passing of the Act.
Download ACE’s briefing to committee members MPs on our amendment on electricity efficiency incentives using the link below: