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Government to end fossil fuel heating in new homes

Treasury says that a consultation on revised energy efficiency standards will decide what role, if any, appliances using cleaner gas will play in heating new build properties

Gas boilers currently in use in the UK will not be suitable for use in news homes by 2025, the government has confirmed.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond yesterday (March 13) published his Spring Statement that included a commitment to introduce a future Homes Standard that will ban fossil-fuel heating systems in all new build properties in the UK from 2025.

The statement, which is intended to detail spending priorities for government, included a pledge for new homes to be future-proofed with a focus on low carbon heating and domestic energy efficiency improvements.

Accelerating the decarbonisation of national gas supplies by stepping up the proportion of green gas in the grid was identified by the Treasury as another key priority to reducing carbon emissions. The government said it would be consulting on how best to meet its commitment on ending the UK’s dependence on natural gas over the course of 2019.

A Treasury spokesperson said there was no detail at present as to whether heating systems designed to use greener gas in a reformed grid may be suitable for use under the Future Home Standard. the proposed standard will be defined during an upcoming consultation.

A recent report from the influential Committee on Climate Changehelps body, which informs and advises government on environmental policy, has backed permanently ending the practice of connecting new homes to the gas grid in favour of electric heating solutions and insulation.

Industry response

The Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) said it welcomed the Chancellor’s statement in recognising the role of the gas grid in the future of heating, despite some uncertainty on how it may factor into the Future Homes standards.

HHIC director Stewart Clements argued that gas boilers “were here to stay” as a result of commitments in the Spring Statement to accelerate the decarbonisation of gas supplies.

He added, “By default the announcement from government to increase the proportion of green gas in the grid signals a strong message to the industry and the consumer that, although the government have committed to ‘end fossil-fuel heating systems in all new houses from 2025’, their commitment to green gas suggests they understand that the gas grid can deliver low carbon heating.”

“So gas boilers, using biomethane or hydrogen as a fuel, should still be part of the mix for new build homes.”

The UK Green Building Council also praised the Chancellor for using his statement to set out clear roadmap to try and tackle climate change through domestic heating and ensuring a more sustainable economy as a whole.

UKGBC chief executive Julie Hirigoyen said, “We welcome the commitment to a Future Homes Standard by 2025 and new requirements for low carbon heat in new homes. It is vital that this is accompanied by truly world-leading energy efficiency standards, in line with the CCC’s recent recommendations.

“We also welcome the intention to mandate net gains for biodiversity on new developments in England in the upcoming Environment Bill. Our recent open letter to the Chancellor, signed by leading construction and property businesses, highlighted the importance of this issue and their call for legally binding environmental targets.

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