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Huhne promises 250,000 retrofit jobs

Householders will be given financial incentives to make their homes more energy efficient as part of plans unveiled
by climate change secretary Chris Huhne this week.

Under the Green Deal, due to be introduced before the end of the year, energy companies will pay up front to insulate homes, recovering their spending from the energy savings that will result, Mr Huhne said.

“The Green Deal will be a revolution,” he told delegates at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Liverpool.

“The first scheme of its kind in the developed world. The most ambitious energy-saving plan ever put forward. A once-and-forall refit that will make every home in Britain ready for a low-carbon future. No more half-measures going off at half-cock.”

Mr Huhne claimed the Green Deal could also “create a whole new industry that will help offset the drag anchor of the budget squeeze”.

He said: “Not just the 26,000 people working in insulation now, but up to 250,000 jobs in every part of the country, working on 26 million homes.”

Sustainability consultant David Strong backed the concept of the Green Deal but warned it would require “more carrot and stick” to drive take-up.

“Access to finance, while important, will not be enough - there will need to be other stimuli,” he told Construction
News. “Things like fiscally neutral tax incentives - anything that will encourage householders. An example of the stick approach might be requiring householders to adopt energy efficiency on any extension they build.”

Mr Strong said attempts by the Labour government to do something similar - under its Household Energy Management Strategy - floundered because of the lack of real incentives on offer.

Labour had announced plans to give seven million homes pay-as-you-save energy makeovers, with incentives given to encourage people to also install small-scale renewables such as solar panels or wind turbines, but take-up
was minimal.

In his conference speech, Mr Huhne also reiterated the Lib Dem backing for nuclear power - as long as there is no
public subsidy.

“I’m fed up with the stand-off between renewable and nuclear which means we have neither - we will have both. We will have low carbon energy, and security of supply,” he said.

“And I say again there will be no subsidy to nuclear, for a very clear reason: it is a mature technology, not an infant needing nurture. Every person in my department has a very clear motivation to ensure that the full costs of nuclear - present and future - are fully taken into account.”