Many observers were surprised with the scale of the Conservative Party victory during the recent election which has enabled them to return to Government with a clear workable majority. This unexpected result allows the new Government to be fairly single minded in pursuing its policies. So what can we expect when it comes to environmental and energy policies and the influence that they may exert on the property market during the next five years?
In common with other manifestos the Conservative Party’s recent effort wasn’t particularly detailed but it did contain references to energy and sustainability which are summarised below.
The Government has pledged to continue it’s support for the UK Climate Change Act. This legislation was introduced by Tony Blair’s Labour Government (by the incumbent Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change at that time, Ed Miliband) with an objective to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80%, when compared to the 1990 figure. This Act has received broad cross party support and other countries have made similar commitments. In terms of progress it would appear that we remain on target to meet the interim objective of a 20% reduction by 2020. This new Government will need to closely monitor emissions as this deadline approaches.
The Manifesto also includes a commitment to ensure that ‘almost every car and van’ will be a zero emissions vehicle by 2050. Given this it is likely that the subsidy fund for purchasers of electric vehicles (The Government presently contributes £5k and £8k towards the purchase of electric cars and vans respectively) will continue as will the various tax advantages for drivers of these vehicles.
Onshore wind farms are due to provide around 9% of our total energy demand by 2020. Furthermore this means of generation is inexpensive with only nuclear generation being cheaper on a pence per kilowatt basis. Given this it is surprising that the Government has decided to withdraw subsidies for this renewable energy source stating that local residents will have the final say as to whether future schemes can proceed. The Government is also committed to expanding the nuclear capability and is likely to initiate the construction of further generating facilities during its term. Controversially the Government will also support the safe development of shale gas which is likely to be met with mixed emotions by the electorate.
The manifesto does not specifically refer to energy issues within buildings but this is hardly surprising as legislation in this area continues to originate from Brussels. The measures are typically contained under the ‘European Energy Performance in Buildings Directive’ which includes the requirement for Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs). As the Government continues to seek the reductions in emissions attributable to domestic and non-domestic buildings it is likely that control will continue to be applied using instruments such as Part L of the Building Regulations and the EPC. This is illustrated by the latest update to Part L (2013) which continues to enforce energy performance improvements to new build and refurbishment projects. A further revision to Part L is due to be issued in 2016. The most significant scheduled change in legislation will be introduced in 2018 when buildings with poor EPC ratings of F or G will need to have planned improvements before they can be Leased or purchased.
More information on these pending changes to EPC Ratings can be found here…. EPCs GET TOUGH