Eric Pickles preventing energy efficiency in the UK says ACE

Eric Pickles is singlehandedly undoing the UK's energy policy and is undermining Britain's attempt to become the most energy efficient nation in Europe, says the director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE).

Speaking to delegates at Sustainability Live in Birmingham, ACE’s Andrew Warren said the government and the building sector came together at the beginning of the century to agree a pathway to higher new building energy standards, at a time when the UK was 25 years behind those adopted in European countries with similar climates.

However, following Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government Pickles’ decision last year to scrap the ‘consequential improvement’ regulation proposal, which requires businesses and households to ensure their properties meet minimum energy efficiency standards when carrying out building improvement work, the ACE decided to take legal action against Pickles and his department for failing to consider the “overwhelming” response of those in favour of the regulation.

Warren criticised Pickles for scrapping the regulations due to a national newspaper labelling it the ‘conservatory tax’, which the department claimed would increase the cost of building improvement work.

According to Warren, the regulation received considerable backing, with 82% of consultation responses in favour. He also argued that the regulation would provide £11bn savings to the economy and save 130 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

One delegate challenged Warren, calling for the ACE to end its legal battle with Pickles and concentrate its efforts on driving the uptake of the Green Deal. Mike Leonard of the Modern Masonry Alliance agreed with the national newspaper that the regulation was a tax and argued that it was an unwelcome regulation for a large section of the construction industry as it would deter people from making improvements to their properties.

However, Warren reacted by highlighting the amount of responses from the building and construction industry in favour of the regulation and added that 2.2 million Green Deal contracts were in fact “dependant” on the proposed consequential improvement regulation.

He went on to dispute Leonard’s criticism of the ACE’s decision, claiming that his proposal would actually “neuter the Green Deal”.

The ACE is continuing legal action against Pickles and his department.

Leigh Stringer

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