The Scottish Government is to make energy efficiency improvements a national infrastructure priority in a move that many in the UK have called for Westminster to adopt nationwide.
In a statement to the Scottish Parliament on June 9, Aileen McLeod, minister for environment, climate change and land reform for the Scottish National Party (SNP) announced plans to improve the energy efficiency ratings of both homes and non-domestic buildings over the next 20 years.
Dr McLeod said: “The Scottish Government has already increased investment in domestic energy efficiency – from œ99m last year to œ119m this year. And since 2009, we have allocated over half a billion pounds on fuel poverty and energy efficiency programmes.
“But we must do more to meet Scotland’s world-leading and ambitious climate change targets. That is why I am announcing that improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s buildings will be designated a national infrastructure priority.”
Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme will use new powers – due to be devolved in the Scotland bill – to determine how supplier obligations in relation to energy efficiency and fuel poverty can be better designed to better suit Scottish circumstances, as well as levering in private sector investment.
The announcement has been applauded by several energy efficiency pressure groups and trade associations, many of whom have campaigned for a similar programme to be adopted by the UK Parliament.
Ed Matthew, director of the Energy Bill Revolution said: “This is a historic announcement that offers the promise of long term ambitious investment to make all homes in Scotland highly energy efficient. We look forward to seeing an increase in energy efficiency investment set out in the Scottish Government’s infrastructure spending plans. The UK Government must now follow Scotland’s lead and put an end to the cold home crisis once and for all.”
Gordon Nelson, services director of the Federation of Master Builders (Scotland), said: “The Scottish Government has quite rightly prioritised our existing buildings because it recognises that in doing so, it will meet a number of its economic, social and environmental objectives. The next hurdle will be to encourage the UK Government to increase its ambition for energy efficiency.
“Moving away from the obvious carbon reduction benefits of this policy, investing in our current homes is essential at a time when we face a national housing crisis. It makes sense to maximise the benefit of the homes we already have while also ensuring that we build as many new homes as possible.”
He added: “Not only will this policy boost jobs and growth in Scotland, it will help homeowners reduce their energy bills and help lift families and individuals out of fuel poverty. We look forward to working with Dr. McLeod to ensure that this progressive policy is implemented on the ground.”
According to estimates made by the Existing Homes Alliance, this infrastructure policy will have multi-year budgets and aim to achieve a high energy performance standard for all housing – the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C – or above by 2025. This would mean that at least 127,000 homes would be upgraded every year.
Alan Ferguson, chair of the Existing Homes Alliance Scotland, said: “This announcement should lead to the step-change in ambition and scale that is required if we want everyone to live in warm, affordable and low carbon homes.
“No other infrastructure investment can achieve so much – tackling climate change while helping pensioners, young families, students, single parents to save money on fuel bills, improve their health, and lift peop