Spring Statement: Industry mixed over ‘world-leading’ energy efficiency pledge

Chancellor Philip Hammond has received mixed feedback from the green economy for his Spring Statement, which included proposals for a new ‘Future Home Standard’.

While specific details on the standard have yet to be disclosed, Hammond said it would ensure all new homes are built without fossil fuel heating and to a “world-leading” energy efficiency standard by 2025.

Rumours had circulated in the build up to the statement that a proposal with similarities to the abandoned Zero Carbon Homes standard was to be unveiled, attracting ire from an industry which has repeatedly rounded on the government’s 2015 decision to cancel the policy.

The Committee on Climate Change, the government’s emissions watchdog, has repeatedly called for more action to tackle carbon reduction in the built environment and yesterday welcomed the announcement, with chief executive Chris Stark saying they represented a “genuine step forward”.

The domestic energy efficiency sector also, predictably, responded well to the news. Both Moixa and PassivSystems welcomed the policy, arguing it to be a step in the right direction for domestic emissions reductions.

But some critiqued the chancellor’s statement for not going anywhere far enough. Maria Connolly, partner at law firm TLT, drew stark parallels between the Future Home Standard and the looming policy gap for domestic renewables, created by the closure of the feed-in tariff with no replacement scheme in place.

“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.

Dave Timms, head of political affairs at Friends of the Earth, went one step further and 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.