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Takeaways from government paper: The Clean Growth Strategy Leading the way to a low carbon future

Domestic buildings energy strategy

The government announced its future clean energy strategy today. It is of interest to Transition Bath as we have long campaigned to make our homes more efficient and to reduce their carbon emissions.

Takeaways from the 165 document include:

  • Support around £3.6 billion of investment to upgrade around a million homes through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), and extend support for home energy efficiency improvements until 2028 at the current level of ECO funding
  • We want all fuel poor homes to be upgraded to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C by 2030 and our aspiration is for as many homes as possible to be EPC Band C by 2035 where practical, cost-effective and affordable
  • Develop a long term trajectory to improve the energy performance standards of privately rented homes, with the aim of upgrading as many as possible to EPC Band C by 2030 where practical, cost-effective and affordable” – although as you might know from recent press reports, the current policy has significant loopholes
  • Phase out the installation of high carbon fossil fuel heating in new and existing homes currently off the gas grid during the 2020s, starting with new homes
  • Provide £255 million of funding for energy efficiency improvements in England and help public bodies access sources of funding
  • Green Great Britain Week” – annual event

Transition Bath is particularly supportive of measures to improve insulation in homes – however it is not clear how this will be achieved in Bath’s largely Georgian Listed city centre housing stock, none of the new policy seems to provide an answer to this challenge.

We are also supportive of measures that require low carbon heating systems like heat pumps to be install in new builds, we are however concerned that this policy seems to defer any decision on this until the ’2020s’. We feel that all new homes should be highly insulated and have low carbon heat sources from today, not sometime in the future. To meet the UK’s carbon commitments there will have to be a significant reduction in the use of gas boilers from 2030, and we feel that it us short-sighted to be installing gas heating systems in new buildings today, when they will have to be replaced within 13 years. B&NES council’s recently adopted Placemaking Policy SCR 1 goes some way to promote this, requiring 10% onsite renewable, but this is not enough to encourage developers to install low carbon heating sources (hear pumps) in all their developments. Transition Bath has been campaigning recently with some success to get developers to conform with the new SCR 1 requirements – we have objected to 6 major planning developments in the last 2 months.

Transport strategy

The paper also briefly covers transport, much of the policy accords with Transition Bath’s views on transport, however there is little concrete policy and potentially only limited funding:

  • most of the transport policy revolves around electric and alternative fuelled vehicles
  • however, there are some ‘aspirations’ on cycling, walking and public transport:
    •  It announces an investment of £1.2 billion to make cycling and walking the natural choice for shorter journeys (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-publishes-12-billion-plan-to-increase-cycling-and-walking) – a policy which seems to have been announced in April
    • It includes the following quotes
      • Walking and cycling will be made easier for many shorter journeys. By 2040, we want cycling and walking to be the natural choices for shorter journeys, or as part of a longer journey.
      • It will be important to reduce the number of shorter journeys made by car, by supporting people to use alternative forms of transport for these trips such as cycling and walking”
      • “Encouraging Low Carbon Alternatives to Car Journeys 15. We will continue to invest in our public transport network, and help people to cycle, walk or travel by bus or train. 16. Our Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy  identifies £1.2 billion which may be invested in cycling and walking from 2016-21. Under this new strategic approach, Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans identify improvements required at the local level, and enable a long-term approach to developing local cycling and walking networks, ideally over a ten year period.”

We would like to see more concrete funding, particularly for cycling and walking to reduce the number of short car journeys being made in Bath each day, which cause congestion, pollution and encourage unhealthy lifestyles.

Posted in Energy, Transport.