UKGBC asks PM for budget clarity on Green Industrial Revolution

The UK Green Building Council said the industry “urgently need clarity” from the Prime Minister on the budget to bring forward his 10 Point Plan, which has far-reaching implications for upgrading property.

Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at UKGBC, said: “We’re pleased to see the Government bring forward a package of measures that begins to recognise the importance of a multi-faceted approach to tackling the climate crisis.

“Retrofitting our existing homes, which are some of the draughtiest in Europe, is critical to driving down emissions across the country. We therefore welcome the extension of the Green Homes Grant, which will give installers more time to help more people upgrade their homes. We also welcome the commitment to public building energy efficiency – although this is not new.”

DOWNLOAD | Government’s 10 Point Plan

“But we urgently need clarity on how much of the £9.2bn Conservative manifesto energy efficiency commitment is actually being brought forward to support this. And, whilst a target on the number of heat pumps is a good start, we will also need money and incentives to back it up. Government should allocate £5.8bn of public capital over the next four years towards supporting heat pump deployment in existing homes, drawn from the £100bn infrastructure budget for this Parliament.”

She continued: “If the Government is to actually deliver on the 250,000 jobs from a Green Industrial Revolution, it must use public money to unlock private sector investment, acting smarter to stimulate market growth by providing funding certainty well beyond the next financial year. This will give the industry the confidence to invest in their workforce, hire more staff and develop their supply chains.

“But cash alone won’t fix this. We also need structural incentives to boost consumer demand for green homes – this should include a range of attractive financing options and incentives, like variable stamp duty to make greener homes cheaper to buy, along with reduced VAT on home renovation to encourage householders to make their homes warmer and more comfortable.”

The Government’s 10-point plan.

1: Advancing Offshore Wind 8

2: Driving the Growth of Low Carbon Hydrogen 10

3: Delivering New and Advanced Nuclear Power 12

4: Accelerating the Shift to Zero Emission Vehicles 14

5: Green Public Transport, Cycling and Walking 16

6: Jet Zero and Green Ships 18

7: Greener Buildings 20

8: Investing in Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage 22

9: Protecting Our Natural Environment 24

10: Green Finance and Innovation

The Government said the “plan will mobilise £12bn of government investment, and potentially 3 times as much from the private sector, to create and support up to 250,000 green jobs.”

James Tarin, managing director of Innovation Gateway, which works with large corporations to solve common problems in real estate, commented: “The Government’s commitment to the phase-out of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 is very welcome. In addition, the commitments to wind power and heat pumps will help to accelerate our transition to a more sustainable economy, and form the basis of valuable job creation in the wake of the economic shocks created by the Covid-19 crisis.

“What’s needed now is a detailed plan – so that the spirit of the commitments is effectively deployed to support the required transition. In particular, the critical support for innovation in enabling technologies needs to be carefully considered to provide the catalyst for accelerated change.”

Wayne Bexton, head of energy and sustainability at Nottingham City Council, added: “The direction of the 10 point ‘Green Revolution’ plan outlined by the Government is welcomed by Nottingham. The low carbon economy can be at the forefront of the economic recovery from Covid-19 and it is critical we enable businesses to commit to this agenda in the long term by creating stable policy. In Nottingham we believe we can go much quicker than what is being proposed and our own road map to be carbon neutral by 2028 highlights much of what is needed.”

In other industry reaction, the Royal Town Planning Institute said a strong and well-resourced planning system is essential if the government is to achieve its ambitions.

The RTPI said that only by investing in local authority planning teams would a localised framework be established to ensure investment is properly integrated into the built and natural environment.

The RTPI’s response comes ahead of the publication of its report on net-zero transport which will look at the contribution of spatial planning to transport decarbonisation in different types of place, as well as addressing barriers to implementation.

Chief executive Victoria Hills warned that a place-based approach to transport decarbonisation was essential if the government’s aims of increased renewable energy and an acceleration in the transition to electric vehicles are to be delivered successfully.

She said: “We welcome the move to bring forward the switch to electric vehicles from 2035 to 2030 but in order to do this successfully we need to first look at a shift to more sustainable behaviours by reducing overall travel demand and increasing the use of sustainable travel.

“The RTPI’s forthcoming report on place-based solutions to net-zero carbon transport will consider a variety of potential options such as increasing density, restricting car use, promoting mixed development and mobility hubs, and creating integrated active and public transport networks.

“As our progress towards net zero carbon reshapes the built environment, it is only with effective spatial planning that we can ensure that benefits are maximised and that the transition is just, leaving no one behind.”

Regarding the plans to make homes, schools and hospitals ‘greener, warmer and more energy efficient’, the RTPI stressed that the retrofit of existing buildings, largely unaddressed to date, would be a major challenge. The RTPI said it would like to see a national retrofit strategy which includes measures to support the private rental sector and a stronger regulatory framework, with powers and resources for local authorities.

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