Experts urge Scotland not to follow Chancellor’s ‘highly regressive’ zero-carbon homes stance

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

A group of academics, business leaders and professionals have written to first minister Nicola Sturgeon urging her to reject the UK government’s sudden U-turn over the long-established zero carbon homes policy.

During George Osborne’s productivity plan “Fixing the foundations” announcement last month, the Chancellor unexpectedly axed the policy designed to ensure that all new homes built from 2016 meet zero carbon standards – together with a sister policy that applied to all new non-residential buildings such as offices, schools and hospitals from 2019.

The move prompted an open letter to the Chancellor from 246 organisations from across the UK which warned that the policy U-turn has “undermined industry confidence in Government” and will “curtail investment in British innovation and manufacturing”.

Now 20 experts have signed an open letter to Nicola Sturgeon urging her to develop new policies to ensure the decisions now being made at Westminster will not be felt by the people of Scotland.

The letter reads:

Dear First Minister,

In light of Chancellor George Osborne’s scrapping of the zero carbon homes target for England we are writing to urge you not to abandon the Scottish targets and trajectory set out by the Sullivan Panel in 2013, and to work with us to develop new policies to ensure the wide-ranging impacts of the disastrous decisions now being made at Westminster will not be felt by the people of Scotland.

Improving the condition and energy efficiency of the Scottish housing stock will be essential in meeting many of our environmental, social and economic objectives towards 2030 and 2050, and removing the current targets, or letting them slip further, will add to our legacy of sub-standard housing that is not fit for a world in which all homes will need to be zero carbon homes.

As underlined by a recent open letter to the Chancellor, businesses have already invested in preparing for these future standards, and the opposition to the dropping of the target has come from a broad spectrum of experts spanning industry, professional organisations and academia. This, along with the scrapping of the Code for Sustainable Homes and the Green Deal, and the weakening of the Energy Companies Obligation, effectively removes the few remaining drivers for energy efficiency in England, is a highly regressive attack that will undermine investor confidence and constrain innovation in the housing industry.

Furthermore, the Chancellor’s equally regressive attack on renewable energy will inevitably constrain progress in Scotland and make it ever more risky to rely on grid decarbonisation for meeting our emissions targets, placing even more emphasis on the need to improve the energy efficiency of our homes, public services and industries.

Scotland is home to world-leading expertise in architecture, building science, engineering, and many other fields from which expertise is needed to solve the complex problems of decarbonising our society and meeting our climate targets equitably and sustainably, but now, more than ever, we need to be confident that the Scottish Government is behind us.


Dr Keith Baker, the Initiative for Carbon Accounting (ICARB) & School of Engineering and the Built Environment, Glasgow Caledonian University

Prof Sue Roaf, the Initiative for Carbon Accounting (ICARB) & Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design, Heriot-Watt University

Norman Kerr, Director, Energy Action Scotland

Chris Stewart, Chair, Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA) & Director, Collective Architecture

Prof Emeritus Keith Barnham, Imperial College London

Prof Leon Freris, Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology, Loughborough University

Ron Mould, School of Engineering and the Built Environment, Glasgow Caledonian University

Dr Gerry Wolff, Coordinator, Energy Fair

Neil Sutherland, Architect & Managing Director, MAKAR Ltd

David Aitken, MCIOB, Lochlie Construction Group

Annalisa Simonella, Director, Loud1 Design

Lisa Ann Pasquale, MCIBSE, Director, Six Cylinder Limited, Fellow - Centre of Refurbishment Excellence (CoRE)

Bruce Newlands, Kraft Architecture + Design

Andy Paterson

Eoin Ryan, Architect & Co-convenor, Dundee & Angus Green Party

Andrew Llanwarne, Co-ordinator, Friends of the Earth Tayside

David Sommervell, Convener, Transition Edinburgh

Julio Bros-Williamson, Scottish Energy Centre, Edinburgh Napier University

David Hood, Torchbearer Ltd

Richard Meiklejohn, MRICS, Director, MAJR Group

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