Campaigners have argued that new Private Members’ Bill, which has had a second hearing in the House of lords, would provide vital policy certainty to tackle fuel poverty if passed
A second reading of a bill to ensure that every home in the country by 2035 is within the top three ratings categorised by Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) has been heard in the House of Lords.
The proposed legislation, entitled the Domestic Premises (Energy Performance) Bill, was put forward by Lord Foster of Bath. It has three main aims that includes a commitment to end fuel poverty by ensuring homes classed as fuel poor across the country meet EPC band C efficiency levels by 2030.
Under the bill, the only exemptions to meeting this standard would be in cases where a property owner denied consent to introduce changes, or where meeting the standards would be impossible from either a technical perspective or due to ‘excessive’ cost.
Lord Foster said the second part of the bill would look to ensure that every home in the country is categorised at least to band C of the EPC ratings system by 2035. He added that meeting this target is estimated to save about £8.5bn in fuel bills annually.
The final part of the bill would require new heating systems to provide a water return temperature of no more than 55 deg C.
Lord Foster said, “Systems with condensing boilers should be designed to have low primary return water temperatures, preferably less than 55 deg C, to maximise condensing operation.”
He added during the second reading of the bill that, if approved, the proposed legislation would help create policy certainty for the heating and building services sector that industry has continued to demand.
Lord Foster said, “The bill places a duty on the Secretary of State to achieve these targets—the ones the government have already committed to. Placing them in legislation and requiring annual reports on progress provides parliament with the means to ensure the delivery of government pledges.”
“It is an approach just like that of the Climate Change Act, which sets overall targets in law for 2050, intermediate targets through the five-yearly carbon budgets and a duty on government to prepare proposals and policies for meeting them and to report on them.”
The Sustainable Energy Association (SEA) trade body said that formal approval of the bill would address concerns about a lack of government policy commitment to tackle fuel poverty and energy efficiency in existing homes.
SEA parliamentary campaigner Ron Bailey said, “The introduction of this bill will help to provide certainty to the industry; encouraging business and homeowners to invest in low carbon, energy efficiency and sustainable solutions. This commitment is necessary given that 64 per cent of the Energy Performance Certificates currently registered in England and Wales rate below EPC band C.”
The Domestic Premises (Energy Performance) Bill was introduced to the Lords as a Private Member’s Bill. However, This does not guarantee the proposals will be formally considered in an eventual vote.
The SEA said it would now be pressing government support the provisions through legislation over the coming month. This would involve campaigning in parliament in order to build on support gained for a similar bill looking at energy efficiency that was introduced to the previous parliament by MP Sir David Amess.
The bill marks several recent attempts to use the new parliament installed after February’s General Election to push for significant reforms around how the built environment is managed and laws and good industry practice are enforced.
This has included Labour peer Lord Mendelsohn using the Private Members’ Bill mechanism to push the government to rethink a range of issues dictating payment practice, as well as how potential penalties for bad behaviour are enforced in the HVAC and construction sector.