Local Government and the path to net zero: Government response to the Select Committee report

Tuesday 18th January 2022

Report by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee.

On Thursday 13th January the Government published their response to the ‘Local Government and the Path to Net Zero’ report by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee. The Committee’s report came after an inquiry that scrutinised government plans to make all new homes “zero carbon ready” by 2025, and to explore how local government can help the UK to reduce its carbon emissions to “net zero” by 2050 and contained a number of recommendations.

The two main recommendations of interest to us were recommendation 10 and recommendation 11, which read:

Recommendation 10: The government is proposing that certain properties with low EPC Bands and using electricity and LPG gas will need to choose a low-carbon heating system when replacing their existing one from 2026. This contrasts with the same requirement on replacing heating systems only applying to homes that are on the gas grid from 2035. The government should explain the rationale for these different approaches. The lack of a requirement to replace a gas boiler that has ceased working with a low-carbon heating system until 2035 risks a large number of existing gas boilers simply being replaced with new gas boilers, especially given that there is a lack of incentives to do otherwise. Furthermore, the government should set out its plans for properties that cannot be retrofitted.

Recommendation 11: The government must ensure there is as much choice for the public in deciding how their homes are retrofitted as is technologically possible. There is therefore a need for progress on developing alternatives to heat pumps, including hydrogen heating. Local authorities should be given the necessary support and resources to fulfil their important role in retrofitting.

We were pleased to see in the Government’s response to recommendation 10 a clear reflection of what we have been saying for some time; that electrification of some rural off-grid housing will not be suitable, and other pathways to decarbonisation – such as bioLPG – need to be considered. Additionally, in their response to recommendation 11, Government noted that ‘there is no single silver bullet’ to reach Net Zero.

That being said, there is still a huge focus on heat pumps and the role that they play, and while for some properties installing a heat pump will be the best way to decarbonise, we know that for many rural off-grid properties, especially older homes, moving to bioLPG will be a more cost effective route to reach Net Zero. We believe that electrification of heating systems should not solely be seen as the solution to decarbonisation and low carbon heat in the UK, especially in rural areas. It is important that regulations and policy reflect that different solutions will be required for different types of building stock and locations across the country.

It is vital that UK Government take a mixed technology approach to decarbonising heating technologies in off-grid homes and non-domestic properties and continue to recognise that bioLPG is a cost effective and sustainable solution for the path to Net Zero.

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The trade association for the LPG and bioLPG industry in the UK