Pickles to face judicial review over 'appalling governance' on energy efficiency

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is facing a judicial review for ditching energy efficiency rules for household extensions, which could have saved the economy £11bn.

The Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) confirmed today that it would go ahead with legal proceedings against Pickles for his December 13 statement ruling out implementing any "consequential improvements" requirements for smaller buildings. 

In January Pickles had issued a public consultation proposing that, when households erect extensions or convert garages, around 10% further of that cost should be spent on improving the energy efficiency of the original building.

ACE points out, that according to Government estimates, as well as saving money, the move branded by the media as the ‘conservatory tax’, would have instigated more than 130 million tonnes of lifetime carbon dioxide reductions.

In addition, it is believed the measures would have increased the take-up of the Government’s flagship energy efficiency retrofit scheme, the Green Deal.

According to an economic impact assessment carried out by his own department, Pickles’ U-turn could see 2.2 million fewer households engage in the Green Deal.

ACE director Andrew Warren said: "Having taken advice from Learned Counsel and our legal advisors, I can confirm that the Association for the Conservation of Energy will be proceeding with the judicial review process against Eric Pickles, regarding his complete volte face on implementing the 'consequential improvements' section of his Part L building regulations consultation."

According to ACE, the public were clearly in support of Pickles' original proposals with the public consultation voting 82:18 in favour and a YouGov opinion poll, taken last May, revealing that the public were nearly 2 to 1 in favour of extensions triggering additional energy improvements.

Announcing its plans for a judicial review last month, Warren said: There is no explanation whatsoever for Mr. Pickles' change of heart. Apart from his formal statement on December 13, we cannot tell why he has decided to reject a scheme, which, less than a year earlier, he was recommending so strongly.

"His decision is too perverse to remain unchallenged. It is, put bluntly, appalling governance."

ACE was not appeased by Pickles' response received last week to its initial letter, which it has chosen not to reveal, and this afternoon confirmed its intentions to press ahead with the proceedings.

Conor McGlone


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