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Government could ban oil-fired boilers

The Government may introduce legislation forcing householders to replace oil-fired boilers with green, energy-efficient alternatives, according to details contained in a consultation paper leaked to The Guardian last week.

Although the measure is only a proposal, it is understood the Government intends to push ahead with the plan as it seeks to reduce the UK’s dependence on oil by 7 per cent and cut its greenhouse gas emissions by almost 20 per cent by 2020.

An excerpt from the leaked document reads: “We must make hard choices. The scale of the increase in renewable energy we propose over the coming decades will have significant impacts on all our lives. Not all of these will be positive; indeed there will be significant costs.”

The Oil-Fired Technical Association and the Heating & Hotwater Industry Council declined to comment ahead of the publication (Thursday June 26) of the renewal energy consultation paper.

Dr John Constable, director of policy and research at the Renewable Energy Foundation, dismissed the move as political posturing. “We are concerned that the interests of energy efficiency and the role of renewables in climate-change policy are being sacrificed for short-term political interests,” he said.
 
“David Cameron’s green credentials is a serious threat to the Labour party and the and the Government’s need to show that it’s in tune with the green agenda is very strong.

“The Government has already intervened on the issue of boilers with the [mandatory] introduction of high-efficiency gas condensing boilers. I can’t see what a further ban would achieve,” he said.

“By going down this route, the Government is saying it has little faith in people’s ability to make the right choices. It’s overlooking the fact that with the current fossil-fuel price rises, people are going to be strongly motivated to adopt technologies which save money.”

He added: “The Government should allow the fuel price rises to drive through the changes. There’s no need for this mandate – if the price of fossil fuels becomes too prohibitive, people will naturally move away from consuming them.”

The proposed move would be at odds with European Union (EU) legislation. Rene Kemna, a partner of VHK, the Dutch consultancy that produced the report on boiler emissions for the EU, said the Commission was not planning to impose a Europe-wide ban of the technology.

“We’re not planning to ban oil-fired boilers. We’re demanding that the technology is made more efficient, but the Commission is certainly not thinking of banning them,” he said.

“The Eco Design of Energy Using Products directive is looking at ways in which it can reduce the nitrous oxide [NOx] produced by fossil fuel appliances, especially oil-fired boilers, since they produce more nitrogen than condensing boilers and this is harmful to the environment.

“The current levels [20 parts per million (ppm) or 40ppm if renewable power is installed] proposed by the Commission are ambitious but achievable,” he concluded.

An EU spokesperson added: “We would find it strange to ban a technology that has the potential to be efficient. With regards to our report on NOx limits, what we are saying is where the technology can be updated, it should be.”