PEWG submits response to Heat in Buildings Bill Consultation

Thursday, 14 March 2024


Picture of a building.

Transforming domestic heating in Scotland

Good news! The Scottish Government has been consulting on its proposals for changing the heating systems of our homes from fossil fuel to "clean" systems - systems which emit zero direct carbon emissions. We see it as practical legislation, addressing the climate emergency in a spirit of equity. Its contents will directly affect all of us. A summary of the headline proposals for domestic property is below - it seemed important that we should all be aware of the key points. The PEWG has responded to the consultation, and a copy of our response is available here.

The proposals deal with Scotland's existing housing stock. Legislation is already in place requiring all new homes for which a building warrant is applied for from 1 April 2024 will be required to have a "clean" heating system.

The time scale for the proposed legislation is as follows:

i) A Heat in Buildings Bill in 2025 before the end of the current Parliament

ii) The detailed Regulations implementing the Bill would be expected after the next Scottish election, so by 2028.

iii) Thus, the Bill will not be fully in force until c2028.

Government is not forcing change upon us in haste; it is giving a long notice period and certainty so that the public and suppliers can plan ahead with confidence.

Scotland cannot meet its 2045 net zero target without wholesale change of the way we heat our homes. We all know that we need to start the change as soon as we can in light of the acceleration and intensification of the impact of climate change not only overseas, but here and now.

Summary of proposals

Necessity: the Scottish Government is required by law to achieve net-zero by 2045.

Carbon emissions from Scotland’s buildings account for c20% of Scotland’s annual emissions. Net-zero cannot be achieved without removing ongoing emissions from our buildings.

Timetable of Legislation: a Heat in Buildings Bill is planned to become law by the end of 2025, but the regulations necessary to implement the Bill will follow in the next Parliament, so fully in place by around 2028.

Top-Line Proposals: use of polluting heating systems will be prohibited from the end of 2045, i.e. 22 years from now.

Examples of polluting heating systems are listed as follows:

  • Gas boilers
  • Oil boilers
  • LPG systems

These need to be replaced by “Clean Heating Systems” (i.e. zero direct emissions heating systems), listed as follows:

  • Electric heat pumps (air source and ground source),
  • Electric storage heaters
  • Electric boilers
  • Connection to a local heat network

(Note: see below under periods of grace re bioenergy boilers which are not defined as “clean”.)

 Two inter-related objectives:

  • To eliminate direct carbon emissions from the heating systems of our homes and buildings
  • To improve the energy efficiency of (i.e. reduce the amount of energy required to heat) our homes and buildings.

 These should have positive knock-on effects addressing fuel poverty and making homes healthier and more comfortable.

 Domestic Homes

  • Certain trigger points will require a change of heating system before the 2045 prohibition:
  • Sale of property: the purchaser will have 2 to 5 years to make the change after purchasing a property
  • If a local heat network becomes available, the owner will be required to join it or switch to an alternative clean system
  • Owner occupied homes: end of 2033: required to meet a minimum energy efficiency standard (see below for exemption)
  • Private rented homes: end of 2028: landlords required to meet a minimum energy efficiency standard
  • Social housing is subject to specific legislation already in place and being reviewed.

Energy efficiency standards: the minimum standard to be met:

  • Either by installing a straightforward list of measures
  • Or by showing a good level of energy efficiency based on a reformed EPC fabric efficiency metric

Exemptions and Grace Periods:

  • Owner occupied house: no need to meet the energy efficiency requirements if it has a clean heating system. (Note: this exemption does not apply to the private rented sector)
  • Flexibility is to be built in to the proposals for complex, hard-to-adapt homes, e.g. tenements, flats and listed buildings
  • Extra time given for a house on a bioenergy system
  • Emergency back-up heating systems using fossil fuels will be exempt, as will other household items, e.g. gas cookers

Recognition of Costs: Government recognises the costs involved and is consulting on how a cost cap might be implemented, as well as looking to work with banks and financial institutions to ensure financial products are available to support people.

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