Editor: The prime minister’s announcement on key net zero policies has been met with widespread frustration from the public, industry and media. But cutting through the headlines and political posturing, the impact is minimal and far from a derailment of the UK’s net zero agenda.
The delay on banning fossil fuel boilers in off-gas homes from 2026 to 2035 was inevitable, given the supply chain to deliver this doesn’t exist yet and installation costs are too high to be mandatory. No government in today’s economic climate would mandate that a homeowner must spend an extra £10,000 to £15,000 on a heat pump system over a boiler. The requirement for new homes to have heat pumps from 2025 should help drive the supply chain and lower prices, easing retrofitting.
The decision to scrap landlords’ energy efficiency requirements rather than making the energy performance certificate (EPC) methodology fit for purpose is disappointing and overlooks the critical role this could play in cutting energy bills and emissions.
But it was positive to see a recommitment to the Future Homes Standard, taking effect from 2025 and with a final consultation this year.
Sunak also ruled out a number of policies neither promised nor in the pipeline (eg, food tax and car-sharing proposals), so there’s nothing to see here, bar electoral signalling: if you vote for the opposition, you might get this.
More positively, there were promising announcements to speed up infrastructure projects and grid connections. An improved grid connection regime could make more of a difference than a ban on fossil fuel cars; do we really think anyone will buy new petrol cars in 2031? They will be more expensive, polluting, slower and less reliable. The notion of a potential 2030 ban has probably already had the desired effect.
Barny Evans, ESG and sustainability director, Turley