‘Build, build, building’ alone isn’t enough, says Association for Decentralised Energy

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PRIME Minister will today announce a “New Deal” which puts jobs and infrastructure at the centre of the government’s economic growth strategy.

In a speech in the West Midlands, Boris Johnson will underline his commitment to ‘build, build, build’ in order to upgrade Britain’s infrastructure and skills to fuel economic recovery across the UK.

The Prime Minister is expected to say: “…This is a government that is wholly committed not just to defeating coronavirus but to using this crisis finally to tackle this country’s great unresolved challenges of the last three decades.

“To build the homes, to fix the NHS, to tackle the skills crisis, to mend the indefensible gap in opportunity and productivity and connectivity between the regions of the UK.

“To unite and level up.

“To that end we will build build build. Build back better, build back greener, build back faster and to do that at the pace that this moment requires.”

To support the ambition to ‘build build build’, in the Autumn the government will also publish a National Infrastructure Strategy which will set a clear direction on core economic infrastructure, including energy networks, road and rail, flood defences and waste.

To protect the UK’s natural infrastructure, the Prime Minister will recommit to reforest Britain by planting over 75,000 acres of trees every year by 2025.

He is also set to pledge £40m to boost local conservation projects and create 3000 jobs, including new Conservation Rangers, and safeguard a further 2000 – training young people and others in the community to protect their local environments.

This will ‘go a long way’ to safeguard the UK’s natural carbon stores and wildlife habitats – our meadows, rivers, and local green spaces – which are central to capturing and removing CO2 from the atmosphere, protecting precious biodiversity, and connecting people with nature.

However, the Association for Decentralised Energy states that while the announcement is welcomed, it is not enough to just ‘build, build, build’ to really put the country into the green economic recovery it urgently needs.

By 2050, UK families will still be living in 80% of the housing stock that is standing today- already old and in need of refurbishment and retrofitting in order to meet net zero targets.

Unlike other stimulus options, the jobs created by a national buildings renovation programme would be distributed across the entire country, with opportunity positively correlated to areas most in need of stimulus.

Research from the European economic interest grouping showed that a focus on building retrofit can employ approximately 150,000 people to 2030, with 40,000 jobs created in the next two years.

Lucy Symons-Jones, Head of External Affairs at the ADE commented: “Investing in a national buildings renovation programme will support local jobs and SMEs right now and will be an important part of the UK’s green economic recovery.

“The £9.2bn promised in the Conservative Party manifesto will support the engineers and installers who are ready to deliver an immediate national building retrofit programme.

“Without this funding, these local skilled workers face redundancy.”

The UK currently has some of the worst performing buildings in Europe.

This leaves cold and draughty homes that contribute to high energy bills, fuel poverty and adverse health outcomes.

The ADE says that, investing in energy efficiency would deliver cost savings and reduce fuel poverty.

Without the investment in a national buildings renovation programme, the ADE warns that UK risks falling further behind in its Carbon budgets, as set out in the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) progress report to Parliament.

  • To reach net zero, the CCC estimate 545,000 lofts required insulating in 2019 but just 27,000 were.
  • 200,000 cavity walls required insulation, but just 41,000 were.
  • 90,000 was the target for solid walls, just 11,000 were.

Reaching 5%, 21%, and 12%, respectively, of annual targets set for these key measures seriously endangers the UK net zero target, now enshrined in law.

Without energy efficiency investment, low carbon heat options are not viable without considerable strain on both the energy system and the wallets of households.

The innovative low carbon heat networks of the future and heat pumps are optimised through efficient buildings.

Buildings that retain heat also open exciting opportunities for households to earn money from flexing their energy use, as they can be pre-heated and remain comfortable for extended periods.