Pickles Faces Backlash Over Energy Efficiency U-Turn
Eric Pickle’s decision to backtrack on proposed energy efficiency legislation could see his department face a judicial review.
The Department of Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) ‘consequential improvement’ measures, which would have required that new extensions on private property and business premises to meet minimum standards of energy efficiency, where abandoned by Pickles last year after being branded as a ‘conservatory tax’ by several sections of the popular press.
However, according to the government’s own projections, the new rules would’ve injected £11bn into the economy, whilst 82% of the responses during the consultation process were enthusiastic about the proposals.
The Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) are now hoping that the Secretary of State’s decision can be overturned. Director of ACE, Andrew Warren said:
We want to see a speedy resolution of this matter, so that we can begin to see some of the benefits which Mr Pickles identified last year would accrue from implementing his original “consequential improvements” strategy, of £11bn savings to the economy, 130 million lifetime tonnes of carbon dioxide, and 2.2 million more households benefitting from the Green Deal.
Pickles has cited the results of an Energy Savings Trust survey, which found that 38% of households and businesses would be put off undertaking home improvement work in the face of additional regulations, as the justification for his about turn. Last month a spokesperson for the DCLG said:
We noted the potential danger that introducing consequential improvements would discourage people from undertaking home improvements […] Given the government’s growth agenda and the proposed lifting of planning rules to make it easier for people to carry out sensible extensions and improvements to their home Ministers have decided it would be inappropriate to place an additional cost on building owners.
Pickles has written to ACE giving greater detail as to his reasoning in an attempt to diffuse the situation. However, the organisation believe that the document has only strengthened their case, saying:
On Learned Counsel’s advice we shall not be releasing the response, received late last week from Eric Pickles […] We do intend though in our own document to point out the various admissions of errors which Mr Pickles has made already regarding his initial December 13 statement.
Green Steve’s Reaction
I don’t trust the results of the survey which concludes with that 38% figure. It is easy to answer a survey saying that you’d be put off by the extra regulation but in reality I’d be surprised if this was the case. In my mind it’s a typical case of a survey that cannot possibly reflect true sentiment.
With the potential savings involved, surely a bit of red tape isn’t a bad thing? Quite frankly this just whiffs of another Tory shift to the right and from a government that repeatedly said it would be the “greenest ever”.
Honestly, we’re too soft on the environment – we need to take a hard line and actually tackle the issues. Vote Green I say.
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