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Tories plan green heating revamp

Viable alternatives to the ‘stop go’ nature of funding to the Low Carbon Building Programme (LCBP) grant are vital if the UK wants to establish a stable renewables market. This was one of the conclusions put forward by Gregory Barker, shadow environment minister and Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle. Speaking exclusively to H&V News, Mr Barker outlined some of the issues the Conservatives were exploring in order to reform the LCBP to create a long-term credible system that would meet consumer demand. “Stop-go grants, small pots of money with an uncertainty about them are not the future,” Mr Barker said. “What we need is long-term direction and a clear articulation of ambition from a new Government that would see microgeneration and low carbon technologies become an integral part of Britain’s housing stock. “We want to see the domestic technologies that the Low Carbon Building Programme (LCBP) promotes far more widely available to average householders. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to be expanding the grants. That means finding ways of dramatically reducing the costs of the technologies so that they are readily available to ordinary members of the public that want to fit them to their homes. Mr Barker claimed this could be achieved by giving local authorities the power to specify higher standards in microgeneration, energy and water efficiency in new developments of houses and businesses than current National Standards. He said he tabled the proposal that would achieve this last year during the passage of the private members Climate Change Bill. The Government voted that amendment down. He said it was not on the Conservative agenda to withdraw the grant scheme, but he felt that better methods could be used to promote renewables. “In the long-term, I don’t see the grant scheme as being the solution. I would hope that if our other measures, which would complement the current grant scheme, were put in place, sooner or later the grant scheme would become irrelevant,” said Mr Barker. He argued that a reliance on the grant scheme was a slow death to the industry. “If we just rely on grants, with its current rate of progress, in ten years time we will still have a tiny industry. What I want is a really ambitious leap forward, and you’re not going to get that with little pots of money. I want to see a really ambitious fresh look at how we are promoting low carbon buildings.”