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Eco Connect Forum ‘ Making The Green Deal Work in Yorkshire’

Eco Connect Forum ‘ Making The Green Deal Work in Yorkshire’

A large audience braved the cold weather on 15th January at the offices of Walker Morris in Leeds to join an expert panel who explained how the Green Deal will work, with a particular emphasis on the approach to implementation in the Yorkshire and Humberside area.

Moderated by Jeremy Barnett a Barrister from St Pauls Chambers in Leeds, the high powered panel gave an authoritative explanation of the detail of the new scheme and then joined in with a frank and at times challenging debate about the real chance of success for the local green economy.

 

Andy Deacon, Director of Delivery from the Energy Saving Trust began with an outline of what the Green deal involves.  

The starting point is the website at http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Take-action/Find-a-grant/Green-Deal-and-Energy-Company-Obligation-ECO which is a complete guide to the scheme and an excellent starting point for companies, suppliers and potential clients who wish to understand the precise nature of the scheme.

Andy explained that the EST helpline currently handles approximately 10,000 calls per month with enquires about all range of subjects including double glazing, affordable warmth, boilers  FIT renewable heat etc. The EST  works with the supply chain, training installers. helping small businesse,  supporting local authorities  and the DEC £10m Leaf programme.

He explained that the Government  are backing multiple horses - press release from DEC £40m through fuel poverty, 60 local authorities working on pilots in addition to £12m to the core cities. The recent Cashback incentive scheme has been launched whereby householders are entitled to a cash back offer of up to £1000 for various types of installation.

The ‘go live switch on day’ is 28th January 2013.  This is a first come first served scheme, but we still don’t have a number on the interest rate for the finance co or information on ‘greener mortgages’ which are a key piece of the jigsaw. A creative agency has been instructed to do a campaign for DEC to raise public awareness about the scheme.

.Helen Jaggar, the Chief Executive of Bernslai Homes explained how they are managing 19,000 properties in South Yorkshire. They have a thee fold approach to reducing carbon emissions

  •               Well insulated, walls, windows
  •               Gas to new forms of heating - aspirational target by 2015 new boilers should be renewable ( no gas boilers)                 biomas - ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps installation
  •           Looking at solar pvs  300 fittied. at the high tarrif.

An important questions are, does it work for the tenant and does it work for the property owner?  Their approach to business development  is provide an  installation route through a consortium approach  ie by a procurement framework and are working with Barnsley and City Council and the Barnsley College.

Helen explained that they have won a bid for community energy switching which has to be spent within three months. This will help people on pre-payment who pay more. Her conclusion is ‘that this is marathon not a sprint’ and take up will increase as pressure comes with fuel bills going up.

Phyliss Prior Boardman, Executive Director at Green Deal Nationwide began by reminding the audience that this massive home improvement programme is only two weeks away. She explained more detail about the cash-back scheme and the difficulties facing green deal advisors. There are long waiting lists for smaller players to get through the accreditation process.

  • Social Rented Sector ( less Green Deal, more Eco)
  • Private Rented. 26% of UK stock is private. This is good for private landlords – as its a way of their properties being improved - the tenant pays, and eco subsidy. In 2016, regulation will force them to say they can’t refuse a tenants reasonable request and by 2018 they will not be able let a property rated below E.
  • Local Authority housing stock

Phyliss spoke about finance, with the Eco side providing £1.3 b per year. The Green deal funding comes from the Utilities who will pay fines if they don’t comply. There is also £1.25m available for the cash- back scheme,   £7m in the GIB a total of £10b private sector investment into the green deal over 10 years.

This should drive demand, kick start the economy, in particular the construction sector, which will face shortages of builders, engineers, heating engineers etc. Although this should assist the local labour market it is anticipated that may insulation engineers will be from East Europe. The target is 500k houses per annum over 5 years with the creation of 1000 apprenticeships.  

David Kilduff, Partner and Head of Renewables, Energy at Walker Morris, said that they are optimistic about the Green Deal. It was a plan to upgrade domestic stock without cost to the public purse and is ‘the only deal in town’.

David felt that it will work best in the public sector, whether the purchaser or provider of services. It is available for qualification for projects that comply with 'the golden rule'. People can get loans at less than the market rate for personal loans - when they walk away the debt attaches to the meter.

David looked at the supply chain where there was a risk the Green deal might impact only where the ‘low hanging fruit’ was being tackled. A dis-incentive is market risk. Local authorities may face competition and reputational risk. There is however a strong regulatory environment – complaints should be dealt with in a fair and reasonable manner.

Nathan Goode, Partner and Head of Sustainability at Grant Thornton felt that the issue is building a market in energy efficiency with the Green Deal being one of the methods of bringing about this objective. He reminded the audience that this is only a loan mechanism and believed that there hadn’t been sufficient drive from government to allow the market to flourish.

On a positive note, experience of similar projects in Australia, where fires, deaths, and other serious bad news had been taken into account, so the Green Deal seemed to be a ‘Rolls Royce’ scheme with all the necessary warranties, accreditation etc in place as part of the scheme. Concerns about fraud that has occurred in Carbon Credits and other energy schemes were thought to be misplaced.

The discussion then developed around the effect of the Green Deal in the Yorkshire area. Concerns were expressed that the majority of the contracts let by the local authorities would be given to larger national concerns with little effect on the local supply chain. However, a representative from Leeds City Council made it clear that  the creation of local jobs was one of the main objectives and this them was echoed by a representative from Hull City Council. There was a feeling however that the larger landlords, local authorities and social housing concerns will find it easier to deal with larger providers than a multitude of SME’s and care must be taken to ensure that local suppliers have a fair chance to benefit from the opportunities that will arise.

It was interesting to see that opinion in the room, judged by straw polls at the start and then the finish, seemed to have softened. The strong range of professional opinion seemed to have shifted initial cynicism at the outset to a general belief that the Green Deal will be good for the ‘Greater Leeds Green Economy’. An unusually positive reaction, that gives quiet encouragement to even the most cynical observer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For any advice and assistance for issues like these please do call Jeremy on 0844 2722322 or submit a comment below. Jeremy will come back to you at the earliest convenience.

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