Home energy certificates postponed

"Energy labels" for all homes sold in the UK will only become compulsory in August, and even then only for the largest homes, the Government announced on Tuesday.

Energy efficiency certificates (EPCs) were to be included in Home Information Packs, a portfolio of documents set to become compulsory for all homes going on the market from June 1. The measures will instead be applied in August and then only to houses with four bedrooms or more, communities secretary Ruth Kelly told parliament, prompting jeers and accusations of incompetence from the opposition.

The delay comes after the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors argued the consultation on EPCs launched in January (see related story) was insufficient and obtained a judicial review on the scheme.

The HIPs are controversial because of their cost – £300 or more per property – and concerns over the number of trained energy efficiency assessors. Ministers hoped that home “energy labels” would drive up energy efficiency.

RICS, which represents ‘property professionals,’ argued the energy labels would harm the housing market. It also countered the Government’s claims that the certificates will help cut carbon emissions.

Energy certificates would only become compulsory for all homes once there were enough trained professionals to carry out energy efficiency assessments, Ruth Kelly said.

National Energy Services, the company in charge of implementing the energy certificates, denied there being any shortages of energy efficiency assessors and called for full-scale implementation of the packs by 1 August.

“In the face of enormous lobbying from vested interests, it is not entirely surprising that the Government has gone for a phased approach,” said Brian Scannell, managing director of National Energy Services.

“Given the number of fully qualified and accredited energy assessors being created every single day we look forward to the Government pushing ahead with full implementation on 1 August.

“There is no reason why the benefits of energy performance certificates and home information packs should not be realised by all home buyers, not just those who buy four bedroom properties.”

Goska Romanowicz

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