Government is listening to us on Off Grid heating

The Prime Minister made a speech last week, setting out what he termed a ‘pragmatic, proportionate and realistic path to reach net zero by 2050.’

The speech set out a number of measures including, perhaps most importantly for rural areas,“Delay the ban on installing oil and LPG boilers, and new coal heating, for off-gas-grid homes to 2035, instead of phasing them out from 2026.”

This is a key policy ask that the Rural Services Network has been championing for some time, and we are pleased that the Government has finally listened.

Kerry Booth, Chief Executive of the RSN says:

“Rural areas want to be part of the solution to Net Zero but they shouldn’t be discriminated against because of their postcode.

“25% of rural homes aren’t connected to the gas network which means they have to be more reliant on fossil fuels whether they want to or not. These are also the people who earn £2,000 less a year and are feeling the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

“The proposed policy was forcing these communities to make the transition 10 years earlier than urban areas.  It was also forcing a ‘heat-pump-first’ approach without consideration for other technologies.  Rural communities will also tell you that their electricity supply isn’t ready for the increase in demand and broadband connectivity is so poor that most rural homes don’t have Gigabit capability which limits the technology they can install to heat their homes.

“The proposals and arbitrary timescales were a sticky plaster which would never really work and a quick fix for Net Zero.  Last week, the Vice Chair of the APPG on Rural Services, Philip Dunne said that the numbers the proposals were based on were underestimated.

“We want the government to now look at this holistically.  This starts with addressing the inequalities in rural areas and really level up the rural/urban divide.  Rural is so much more than a place to put wind or solar farms. They are home to people who work together to implement things like Community Energy Schemes.  Don’t dictate; give rural communities the right tools and fair funding then they will lead the way in the Net Zero challenge.”

The Prime Minister also made reference to ‘an exemption to the phase out of fossil fuel boilers, including gas, in 2035, so that households who will most struggle to make the switch to heat pumps or other low-carbon alternatives won’t have to do so. This is expected to cover about a fifth of homes, including off-gas-grid homes - those that will need expensive retrofitting or a very large electricity connection.’

The Rural Services Network will be asking questions of Government about this exemption and look forward to reading more details of the policies announced by the Prime Minister to see the detail of proposals and the true implications for rural communities.

Read more at this link


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