MEPs object to Eric Pickles’ ‘incoherent’ managing of EPCs

Two British members of the European Parliament have formally written to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, disputing the "incoherent" way he is implementing a European energy saving directive.

The MEPs, Vicky Ford and Fiona Hall, object to his decision to require private companies to display Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) “in a prominent place” in their buildings. Such certificates are based only on providing details of the theoretical energy efficiency of each commercial building.

However, this contrasts with the established practice in 40,000 public sector buildings, where the A to G certificates – called Display Energy Certificates (DECs) – reveal to visitors how effectively each building is being managed year-on-year by focusing on actual fuel consumption per square metre.

The MEPs, Ford, who negotiated the Directive for the Conservative Group in the European parliament, and Hall, who carried out the same role for the Liberals and is also leader of the British Liberal Democrats in the EP, accuse Pickles of ignoring the preference of “a great deal of commercial and professional interests” by opting to run two different systems.

In the joint letter, the MEPs say it was never “the intention of our work” on this directive to “introduce different standards for the public and private sector.”

The parliamentarians also accuse Pickles of having “missed an opportunity to save time and resources”. They add that he could have implemented the directive “in a way which will be far more effective to encourage improvements in the energy performance of buildings.”

Director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE), Andrew Warren, said: “Such criticisms of Eric Pickles from the two leading Coalition-supporting political specialists on energy efficiency are as unprecedented as they are deserved. He really is an unmitigated disaster as far as the energy efficiency agenda is concerned”.

Speaking to delegates at Sustainability Live in Birmingham last month, Warren accused Pickles of singlehandedly undoing the UK’s energy policy, adding that he is undermining Britain’s attempt to become the most energy efficient nation in Europe.

Leigh Stringer

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