1. BEIS says that Listed properties are not automatically exempt from requiring an EPC

    March 1, 2017

    The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has released guidance on the application of the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for non-domestic buildings. In this document, they cast doubt on the interpretation favoured by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on the requirement for EPCs for listed buildings.

    The Alliance has long been arguing that an EPC is required for the majority of listed buildings under the existing Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations. We have seen the DCLG gradually backing away from the stance that “if it is listed it is exempt” but unlike BEIS they have not yet issued clear guidance stating otherwise.

    The confusion stems from the paragraph in the regulations stating that EPCs are not required for

    “buildings officially protected as part of a designated environment or because of their special architectural or historical merit, in so far as compliance with certain minimum energy performance requirements would unacceptably alter their character or appearance”

    Whilst clearly a listed building is officially protected for its architectural or historical merit it is the second part of the sentence that is all important. As BEIS rightly state in their guidance

    “Examples of energy performance measures which may alter character or appearance … include external solid wall insulation, replacement glazing, solar panels, or an external wall mounted air source heat pump.”

    The guidance then goes on to point out that

    “Where character or appearance would not be altered by compliance with energy performance requirements, an EPC may be legally required.”

    Well hooray! The penny has finally dropped. There are literally thousands of energy inefficient listed properties out there where things like loft insulation or upgrading heating and/or hot water systems can make a significant difference; without altering their character. The people living in those properties need them more energy efficient and the country can’t afford for those properties not to be upgraded if we are going to meet our targets.

    It would clearly be ridiculous to completely exclude a large proportion of our least efficient buildings from the requirement to make them more energy efficient if it is reasonably possible to do so. That is why the regulations only exclude them if it is not reasonably possible to do so; and we are pleased that BEIS has finally recognised this and issued appropriate guidance.

    What we now need is similar clarification from the DCLG. In the meantime, assessors should not risk telling clients that if their property is listed they don’t need an EPC for sale or rental. That advice could prove to be incorrect, making the assessor liable. The safe approach is to state that

    If your building is listed, then it may be exempt from needing an EPC (for sale or rental) however the legislation is not entirely clear on this point and it is for your solicitor and the solicitor for the other party to determine whether they believe one should be produced.

    An assessor could add that there is no risk in obtaining an EPC that was not actually needed whereas there is a risk in not obtaining one if it is deemed you should have. Again, BEIS are ahead of the game on this one and their guidance confirms that

    “In situations where an owner or occupier of a building which is not legally required to have an EPC has obtained one voluntarily … the landlord will not be required to meet the minimum standard.”

    At last we are seeing some common sense being applied to what has been one of the most contentious issues for EPCs.


    The guidance referred to in this article is

    THE NON-DOMESTIC PRIVATE RENTED PROPERTY MINIMUM STANDARD
    Guidance for landlords and enforcement authorities on the minimum level of energy efficiency required to let non-domestic property under the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015
    February 2017


    Ian Sturt
    The Alliance of Energy Assessor Associations
    25 February 2017


  2. Bonfield Review “Each Home Counts” Now Published –

    February 2, 2017

    In July 2015, the Secretaries of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), now part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) jointly commissioned an ‘Independent Review of Consumer Advice, Protection, Standards and Enforcement’ for home energy efficiency and renewable energy measures in the United Kingdom.

    An Independent Review of Consumer Advice, Protection, Standards and Enforcement for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
    This Review covers:

    Consumer advice and protection

    What supports consumers’ decisions ahead of the installation, and what assistance is available when things go wrong?

    Standards framework

    What ensures that the right products are fitted to the right properties in the right way during the installation?

    Monitoring and enforcement

    What ensures that poor quality work is dealt with effectively, and do arrangements for audit, compliance-checking and sanctions provide sufficient assurance of this?

    This Report sets out the results of the Review and proposals for development of a clear action plan for industry to lead on and deliver over the coming years

    The report can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/each-home-counts-review-of-consumer-advice-protection-standards-and-enforcement-for-energy-efficiency-and-renewable-energy


  3. Landlords required to fund improvements to achieve MEES for domestic properties?

    August 2, 2016

    Sunday’s national press have leaked a suggestion that landlords will be required to fund improvements to achieve Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for domestic properties.

    From April 2016, The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property)(England and Wales) Regulations 2015 introduced minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) in the residential and commercial private rented sector.

    The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards dictate that a landlord with an EPC Rating below an E will be required to undertake work to improve the energy performance of their property; otherwise they could face heavy penalties. These new standards will be phased in over the next five years, moving from targeting new leases to targeting ALL residential and commercial leases.

    When Green Deal was mothballed last year it created a gap in the regulations as improvements were only mandatory if there was “no upfront costs” to the landlord. An article in Sunday’s Telegraph states that Government may well be on the verge of closing this loop hole by requiring landlords to fund the improvement at their own expense up to, the article suggests, a “hypothetical maximum of £5000”.


  4. Government must learn from ‘blinkered’ approach to energy efficiency

    August 2, 2016

    20 July 2016

    The Public Accounts Committee report says that failures highlighted by the design and implementation of household energy efficiency schemes put public money at risk and must not be repeated.

    Report conclusions and recommendation

    The Committee’s report concludes take up for the Government’s Green Deal loans scheme was “woefully low” because the scheme was not adequately tested.

    The forecast of demand for Green Deal loans was excessively optimistic, says the Committee, and “gave a completely misleading picture of the scheme’s prospects to Parliament and other stakeholders”.

    It raises concerns that while taxpayers provided £25 million—more than a third of the initial investment in the Green Deal Finance Company—to cover set-up and operational costs, the Department of Energy and Climate Change had no formal role in approving company expenditure or ensuring it achieved value for money.

    £240 million spent stimulating demand for loans

    The Committee also finds the Government lacks the information it needs to measure progress against the objectives of the complementary Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, including its impact on fuel poverty.

    The Department implemented the Green Deal and ECO schemes in 2013 to improve household energy efficiency.

    It spent £240 million setting up and stimulating demand for loans under the Green Deal, which enabled households to take out loans to pay for efficiency measures which they would repay through their energy bill.

    ECO resembled previous energy efficiency schemes, with the Department requiring the largest energy suppliers to install measures that save a set level of carbon dioxide (CO2) or reduce bills by March 2017.

    Ensure policy decisions are “thoroughly tested and based on accurate evidence”

    While the primary aim was to save CO2, the Department also wanted the schemes to work together to improve ‘harder-to-treat’ properties; stimulate private investment in energy efficiency measures and mitigate the causes of fuel poverty.

    Among its recommendations to Government the Committee calls on the Department to ensure policy decisions are “thoroughly tested and based on accurate evidence”, including a robust evaluation of stakeholders’ views.

    The Department “should be prepared to pull back on plans if it is clear they are unlikely to be successful and risk taxpayers’ money”, says the Committee, and ensure forecasts laid before Parliament “are clear about the degree of certainty that applies to the numbers used and the likely outcome”.

    The Report adds: “The Department must not leave itself open to accusations of misleading Parliament to achieve its own ends.”

    Chair’s comments

    Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the PAC, said:

    “The Government rushed into the Green Deal without proper consideration of concerns about its weaknesses.

    Not enough work went into establishing the scheme’s appeal to households, nor to its implementation, nor to examining the experience of governments setting up similar schemes overseas.

    This blinkered approach resulted in a truly dismal take-up for Green Deal loans and a cost to taxpayers of £17,000 for every loan arranged. Savings in CO2 were minimal.

    Accountability to government of the Green Deal Loan Company—which spent public money on the expectation that it would need to support 3.5 million loans, compared to the 14,000 taken up—was institutionally weak.

    The Government is also unable to measure adequately the success of the Energy Company Obligation.

    There is no doubt householders and taxpayers in general have been ill-served by these schemes and the Government must learn from its mistakes to ensure they are not repeated in this or indeed any other policy areas.”

    Caroline Flint MP, a member of the Committee who led questioning during its inquiry, said:

    “It is clearly desirable to make homes more energy-efficient but the Green Deal in particular was not fit for purpose.

    It is deeply alarming that the expectations for take-up put forward by the Government should be so wide of the mark, especially given the serious concerns raised about the scheme’s design and implementation.

    This, together with its inability to properly evaluate the Energy Company Obligation, paints the picture of a Government hell-bent on implementing a policy regardless of whether it represented value for taxpayers’ money.”

    Report summary

    The Department of Energy and Climate Change (the Department) implemented the Green Deal in 2013 without adequately testing the design of the scheme with consumers.

    In practice, householders were not persuaded that energy efficiency measures were worth paying for through the Green Deal and take-up of loans was abysmal.

    The Department’s forecast that the Green Deal Finance Company would provide loans worth more than £1.1 billion by the end of 2015 was wildly optimistic—the actual figure was £50 million.

    £25 million written off by the Department

    The finance company has incurred large financial losses as a result of the low demand for green deal loans resulting in the Department writing off some £25 million of the amount it loaned to the company.

    While the complementary Energy Company Obligation scheme has led to energy efficiency improvements in over 1.4 million homes, the Department does not have the information it needs to measure progress against its objectives.

    In particular, it cannot tell what impact the schemes have had on reducing fuel poverty.


  5. Ministerial briefs announced at the new Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy

    August 1, 2016

    Several weeks on from the formation of Theresa May’s government, ministerial briefs at the new Department of Business, Energy and Industry (BEIS) have been officially confirmed.

    As had been widely expected Nick Hurd, MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, has been confirmed as Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, taking responsibility for climate change, including carbon budgets, climate science, international climate change efforts, and the green economy, including the Green Investment Bank. His industrial responsibilities also extend to advanced manufacturing, materials, and the automotive sector.

    The move is likely to be broadly welcomed by green groups, who have praised Hurd’s record as an advocate for ambitious action to tackle climate change. He is a supporter of the Conservative Environment Network thinktank and before entering government he served on the Environment Audit Select Committee and led work on climate change policy for the Conservative Party Quality of Life Policy Group, chaired by Lord Deben.

    He was also a member of the Globe International Parliamentary network for Climate Change and sponsored the Sustainable Communities Act as a Private Members Bill. He joined BEIS from the Department for International Development where he worked on a range of climate change issues, including improving access to clean energy in Africa.

    Writing on Twitter this morning, Hurd said the new role would seek to better integrate industrial and climate policy. “Time for climate change and industrial policy to be brought together more closely,” he said. “Look forward to working on it.”

    He added that the climate change brief was a “welcome opportunity to reconnect with the issue I chose to focus on when I entered Parliament”.

    Meanwhile, Conservative peer Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe has been confirmed as Minister of State for Energy and Intellectual Property, taking responsibility for nuclear, oil and gas, shale gas, low carbon generation, security of supply, electricity and gas wholesale markets and networks, energy efficiency and heat, fuel poverty, smart meters and smart systems, international energy, and energy security.

    A former senior executive at Tesco, Neville-Rolfe will also represent the department in the House of Lords, and take responsibility for intellectual property and EU single market issues.

    Neville-Rolfe’s appointment last month was similarly welcomed by green groups, who highlighted her record at Tesco leading much of the supermarket’s work to improve its environmental performance and response to climate change.

    Both Hurd and Neville-Rolfe will be supported by the department’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Industry and Energy, Jesse Norman, whose responsibilities include industrial and energy policy.

    Completing the ministerial roster at the department, Margot James has been confirmed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility. She will support Nick Hurd as Minister for Climate Change and Industry and her responsibilities include the retail sector, regulatory reform, corporate governance, labour markets, and consumer and competition issues, as well as the small business sector.

    The ministerial team will be led by Secretary of State Greg Clark and now faces a daunting in-tray as it continues work to deliver a new emission reduction plan for the UK, support Number 10’s review of the controversial Hinkley Point project, deliver the promised national smart meter roll out, and flesh out Theresa May’s vision for a new industrial strategy.

    Clark welcomed the confirmation of the new team. “I am thrilled to have been appointed to lead this new department charged with delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy, leading government’s relationship with business, furthering our world-class science base, delivering affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change,” he said in a statement. “I’m supported by a great ministerial team and we will work tirelessly to deliver on all of these areas, which are vital for the future success of our country.”

     

    Source: BusinessGreen


  6. Parliament formally approves fifth carbon budget

    July 25, 2016

    Carbon-cutting target was approved by both houses as new BEIS minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe insists climate strategy will be at the heart of new department’s remit

     Parliament has officially passed the government’s fifth carbon budget into law, committing the UK to slashing emissions by 57 per cent against 1990 levels by 2032
    Source: Business Green

  7. ‘Green Tories’ complete ministerial line-up at revamped Business and Energy Department

    July 18, 2016

    Nick Hurd, Margot James and Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe will join new BEIS ministry headed by Greg Clark .

    Hopes the newly formed Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will prioritise action to tackle climate change and expand the green economy were given a boost over the weekend, as a number of leading ‘green Tories’ were appointed to key positions within Theresa May’s government.

    Conservative MPs Nick Hurd and Margot James and House of Lords peer Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe were confirmed as junior ministers at the newly created department over the weekend, where they will join new Business Secretary Greg Clark.

    Like Clark, who served as shadow energy and climate change secretary prior to 2010 and has been a long-standing advocate of climate action, the new ministers bring a variety environmental, climate change and green business experience to the new department.

    Nick Hurd, the MP for Ruislip Northwood and Pinner, is a supporter of the Conservative Environment Network think tank, and was chairman of the climate change sub-group of the Quality of Life policy review commission between 2006 and 2008. He has also served on the Environmental Audit committee and more recently served as parliamentary under-secretary of state for international development between November 2015 and July 2016, and as civil society minister for four years during the coalition government.

    Baroness Neville-Rolfe, meanwhile, was promoted on Sunday from her previous role as parliamentary under-secretary for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), to minister of the revamped business and energy department. Neville-Rolfe was appointed as a life peer of the House of Lords in 2013 after around 16 years working for Tesco, where she served on the board as executive director of corporate and legal affairs for seven years. She also formerly worked as a civil servant at the ministry for agriculture, fisheries and food for 19 years.

    Margot James has in turn taken up the under-secretary of state role at the newly formed department. James was first elected as an MP for Stourbridge in 2010, and has previously sat on the BIS select committee and the Committee on Arms Export Controls.

    She also created and chaired an all-party parliamentary group for trade and investment in a bid to boost dialogue on trade issues between businesses, trade organisations and politicians, and since 2015 served as assistant government whip, with responsibility for education and equalities. In addition, she previously worked to promote the Green Deal energy efficiency scheme and campaigned to reform the climate change levy.

    Source: Business Green

     


  8. DECC scrapped – Greg Clark made business, energy and industrial strategy secretary

    July 14, 2016

    Greg Clark has been appointed secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy – a newly created role which gives a strong indication that the incoming prime minister Theresa May has merged some of the responsibilities of DECC with the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) department.

    And, in a statement on his new appointment this afternoon, Clark suggested he would be taking on the climate change brief as well as looking after energy and business.

    “I am thrilled to have been appointed to lead this new department charged with delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy, leading government’s relationship with business, furthering our world-class science base, delivering affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change,” he said.

    First elected to Parliament in 2005 as the MP for Tunbridge Wells, Clark has held a number of front bench positions, both in government and the shadow cabinet.

    He served as shadow secretary of state for energy and climate change from 2008 to 2010, and also worked in the coalition government as financial secretary to the Treasury, minister of state for cities and constitution and minister of state for universities, science and cities.

    As communities secretary at DCLG for the past year, Clark had the final say over planning decisions, including gas developer Cuadrilla’s fracking application for a site in Lancashire, over which Clark had been expected to make a final decision.

    Meanwhile, Amber Rudd, who previously held the post of secretary of state for energy and climate change, was promoted earlier today to head up the Home Office.

    Responding to Clark’s appointment, Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), called Greg Clark an “excellent appointment”.

    “He understands climate change, and has written influential papers on the benefits of Britain developing a low-carbon economy,” said Black in a statement. “Importantly, he sees that economic growth and tackling climate change are bedfellows, not opponents – and he now has the opportunity to align British industry, energy and climate policy in a way that has never been done before.”

    Green advocates gave mixed responses to the news that energy policy will be moved to the business department, with some expressing concern it could bode ill for the importance put on climate change.

    Source: Business Green

     


  9. Green industries celebrate as government backs ‘bold’ new carbon target

    June 30, 2016

    Renewables sector praises ‘clear signal that the UK will continue to show bold leadership on carbon reduction’

    The government has this morning won plaudits from green businesses, after announcing it has agreed to set a new legally binding target to cut emissions 57 per cent against 1990 levels by 2032.

    As expected the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) issued a statement on its website confirming Ministers have approved the recommendations for the fifth carbon budget put forward by the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

    “The Government has agreed with the Committee on Climate Change and proposes that the fifth budgetary period covering 2028 to 2032 should be set at 1,725 MtCO2e,” the statement reads, adding that associated documents and official impact assessments will be made public shortly.

    The move sparked criticism from the Labour opposition, which argued the failure to put the plans before parliament meant the end of the month deadline for formally adopting the new budget would be missed.

    The government is also likely to face calls to explain why it rejected the CCC’s recommendation to include the UK’s share of international shipping emissions in the new budget.

    However, green industry groups this morning were united in welcoming the decision, arguing it would deliver improved investor certainty at a time when confidence has been dented by the Brexit vote and ensuing political and economic turmoil.

    The decision also lays to rest fears that opposition from some Ministers to the proposed target could have resulted in it being watered down.

    “Today’s announcement is especially welcome given the uncertainty caused by last week’s referendum,” said RenewableUK chief executive, Hugh McNeal. “It’s a clear signal that the UK will continue to show bold leadership on carbon reduction. This will allow investment to continue to flow into renewable energy projects throughout the UK.”

    Source: businessGreen


  10. Amber Rudd: UK remains fully committed to climate action in wake of Brexit vote

    June 29, 2016

    Energy and Climate Change Secretary insists government is still “full tilt” behind Hinkley Point, and says she will only support a Tory leadership candidate who takes climate action seriously

    Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd today sought to reassure green businesses and investors of the government’s continued commitment to securing clean energy supplies and building a low carbon economy in the wake of last week’s decision to leave the European Union.

    In her first major speech since the referendum result, Rudd – who was a leading backer of the Remain campaign – stressed that while she still believed Brexit would result in a “harder road” for the UK as it worked to meet its climate goals, the government remained firmly committed to the emission reduction targets set out in the Climate Change Act.

    Rudd also emphasised that the 2008 Climate Change Act was “not imposed on us by the EU – it was delivered with cross part support” in Parliament, before praising the legislation for “underpinning remarkable investment” in low carbon technologies and renewable energy since 2010.

    Observers have voiced fears that the involvement of leading climate sceptics in the Leave campaign could lead to  post-Brexit push to water down environmental policies and low carbon investment programmes.

    But Rudd insisted the government remained fully committed to meeting its climate goals and would continue to work with international partners to tackle the threat presented by climate change. “As investors and businesses you can be confident we remain committed to building a low carbon infrastructure fit for the 21st century,” she told the audience of green business executives.

    Source: business Green.