Sunak makes major U-turn on Government's net zero policy

A ban on installing new oil and LPG boilers, as well as new coal heating, for homes off the gas grid will be delayed from 2026 until 2035, the UK's Prime Minister has announced.

In a major shake-up of the Government’s net zero agenda, Rishi Sunak confirmed a weakening of targets to phase out gas boilers as part of the easing of a series of green policies under a "new approach" designed to protect rising costs in the current economic crisis.

The Government was planning to introduce energy efficiency targets for new homes in England and Wales, to be met by April 2025. But the Prime Minister has now axed these plans. However, he insisted that he remains committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Speaking at a press conference earlier this week, Sunak also referenced minimum EPC levels for properties, mentioning that the huge costs of upgrading homes is likely to be passed on as higher rents to tenants. The looming EPC changes due to go live for existing tenancies in 2028 are now to be scrapped, with more Government money instead being offered as a carrot to landlords and home owners to upgrade their properties.

He announced an increase in grants to help those making the transition from boilers to heat pumps - this would rise from £5,000 to £7,500.

"There are no strings attached – the money will never need to be repaid," he said, adding that people would not be forced to make the change.

"We'll never force anyone to rip out their existing boiler and replace it with a heat pump," he added. "You’ll only ever have to make the switch when you’re replacing your boiler anyway, and even then, not until 2035."


Key takeaways from Sunak's speech

 

Time to transition from old boilers to heat pumps extended

The PM said he would not force people to replace a boiler that is still functioning with a heat pump, and people will only have to replace a boiler if they are doing so anyway from 2035. Sunak also said he would announce a means tested exemption for people to ever have to install a new boiler.

Cash boost for boiler upgrade scheme

Extra money for the Government's Boiler Upgrade Scheme will increase cash grants to replace boilers 50% to £7,500. He described it as "one of the most generous schemes of its kind in Europe".

Off grid oil boiler ban to be scrapped 

The Energy Security Bill had looked at banning the grid gas boilers powered by fossil fuels by 2026. However, Sunak said he would take this proposal off the table.

Landlords no longer required to upgrade less energy efficient homes

The Prime Minister said he would not force "property owners" to upgrade their homes to make them more energy efficient. The Government previously said all rental properties must have an EPC rating of band C, but Sunak said such plans would be scrapped. 

The Government's U-turn will be just one of the hot topics debated at this year's CABE’S Built Environment LIVE at London’s ExCel on 5-6 December 2023. More information here.

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