King’s Speech: domestic energy-efficiency climbdown slammed

Construction bodies have bemoaned a King’s Speech that confirmed landlords would not have to make home improvements to drive up energy efficiency.

In a traditional ceremony in the Houses of Parliament, King Charles today (7 November) outlined the 21 laws that the government intends to push through over the coming year.

A 78-page document released alongside the speech included “scrapping proposals to require landlords to meet Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) [level] C from 2025 in private rented properties”.

Announced by prime minister Rishi Sunak in September as part of his much-vaunted net-zero reset, this move will let many property owners avoid upgrade works that many feel would have benefited tenants, contractors and the environment.

Louise Hutchins, head of policy and public affairs at the UK Green Building Council, said: “The government claimed to set out an agenda to tackle the long-term challenges facing the UK, yet introduced no legislation or proposals to address the catastrophic levels of energy waste from homes and buildings that are fuelling the cost-of-living and climate crises.

“Formally pulling the plug on minimum energy-efficiency standards for private rented homes will condemn millions of people living in fuel poverty to continue enduring cold, mouldy homes.”

Meanwhile, in his introduction to the King’s Speech document, Sunak said a new Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill would help “safeguard energy independence and security” by backing North Sea oil and gas extraction.

Hutchins said: “As we hurtle towards climate disaster, opening up new oil and gas extraction while failing to deal with the huge demand from gas heating in buildings will only take us further off-course from the net-zero future we so desperately need.”

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said it was “disappointed” by the move away from energy-efficiency measures that the government had promised three years ago.

“Included in the King’s Speech should have been an announcement to reform EPC methodology, given the Independent Review into Net Zero recommendation to introduce new energy standards based on a new energy measurement system,” said RICS.

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