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Green Deal is ‘huge missed opportunity’ says insulation firm

15 Jun 12 A leading provider of insulation materials has slammed the government over its watering down of the proposed Green Deal initiative.

What was originally meant to be a mass programme to insulate nearly half the nation’s housing stock  is now set to be just a niche scheme, tinkering at the edges, it is claimed.

Knauf Insulation external affairs director Steven Heath has spoken out in response to the publication this week of the necessary secondary legislation and the final stage impact assessment.

“The numbers provided this week fall significantly short of the cited ambitions,” he said.

Mr Heath said: “We very much welcome the government’s commitment to energy saving initiatives and have supported the Green Deal and ECO concepts since the beginning, believing the policies had the potential to transform the energy efficiency of our housing stock - yet the evolving detail in the scheme framework has led us to become increasingly concerned over its intended operation. The final design suggests a huge missed opportunity.  

“In principal, Green Deal has the ability to deliver the type of retrofit so desperately needed if the UK is to improve its ageing building stock, deliver the most cost effective CO2 emission cuts, along with providing a genuine job creation programme.  However the government’s self-declared ‘flagship’ policy, looks set to become a niche programme as the numbers provided this week fall significantly short of the cited ambitions for the 14 million homes needing to be retrofitted and the creation of 65,000 jobs. 

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“As far as insulation is concerned, the impact assessment describes small increases in the number of cavity wall installations and an even smaller increase in loft installs from the original consultation. But worryingly, these still fall short of current activity and the rate of loft insulation remains vastly lower than the 2.1 million per year which the government's official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, say is required for the UK to meet its targets. 

“The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) statistics show that 10 million (43%) of all lofts remain inadequately insulated and eight million houses with cavity walls (42%) have yet to be insulated.  In spite of this, the impact assessment outlines that just 364,000 loft installations are envisaged up to 2015 – greatly contrasting with previous years’ figures, with the full total prediction of just 1.7 million by 2022.”

Mr Heath expressed surprise at the extent of the reversal. “Alarmingly, the government is back tracking on its promised expansion of solid wall installations, now showing no increase in current run rates – which actually equates to a 61% drop from the numbers proposed in the original consultation. The solid wall insulation figure appears to have gone from dangerously ambitious in the Green Deal consultation to actually offering a flat line in the level of installs against current activity.

“The stark outlook for all three leading insulation measures under the new scheme is all the more surprising given the fact that upgrading the thermal efficiency of properties through loft or cavity wall insulation is one of the easiest and cheapest means of reducing energy use and carbon emissions.  The industry's response to the consultation very clearly stated that if the high level ambitions of the programme were to be realised, then a smooth transition from the loft and cavity market to a safely growing solid wall insulation market was crucial.

“The outcome of the impact assessment sees the Green Deal in danger of becoming a niche offering, attractive only to a small subset of the UK population, while having a highly developed and costly support structure built around it.  We would argue that the best course of action now, if the Green Deal is to genuinely deliver against its potential, may be to introduce a new 12 month phase of the current CERT (Carbon Emissions Reduction Target) and CESP (Community Energy Saving Programme) plans, whilst the Green Deal policy design is reconciled with stated ambitions.”

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