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Observer Ethical awards Winners 2011

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Small companies in danger of being excluded from Green Deal delivery

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 June 2011 at 1:22 pm

There's concern that the Green Deal will be the preserve of a few big companies, unless its structure is carefully designed to let small companies in. This was one of the issues highlighted at a debate on the Green Deal at yesterday's Ashden Awards conference.

Plain speaking was the order of the day, and judging by his body language, not all of it was comfortable listening for DECC official Dan Monzani. The debate, chaired by Jonathan Porritt, was entitled 'A recipe for success?'.

While there was a feeling that there is potential in the scheme, judging by the comments from the panel and the floor DECC has got some work to do to raise confidence in its plans.

Abigail Burridge of the Local Government Association launched an impassioned plea for local government to be more involved in the development of the scheme, saying that councils have a vital role to play in its implementation. This was confirmed by financier Christoph Harwood of Marksman Consulting who said local authories have a key role to play, both in private and social housing sectors, as they have access to funding and if they take some of the risk it will encourage banks to come in.

Several panelist agreed that the emphasis should be on people not houses. "It's really important that we have happy customers," said David Adams of Wilmott Dixon. "How do we maximise the perceived benefit and the real benefit?"

He pointed to a need for carrots and sticks as well as the loan scheme, a point also made by David Hall, who pointed out that the Green Deal only tackles the perception that making your house energy efficient is expensive, leaving other barriers to entry - the disruption it causes, and people's preference for (say) a new kitchen over energy efficiency measures - unanswered.

The issue of big company domination, was raised by a question from the floor, citing the way that CERT funding had led to the market for insulation to end up in the hands of just a few large players. Christoph Harwood said that, due to the complexity of the model, and the financing systems, "it could go big companies again, unless it's thought through very carefully". However, there seemed to be considerable agreement that it was highly desirable that small, local businesses are involved in delivering the Green Deal.

Dan Monzani replied that DECC is looking at how the Energy Company Obligation (which requires the big six to provide additional support measures which don't meet the Golden Rule in hard to treat house and for vulnerable people) can be more open to encouraging small company involvement than CERT was.

Photo: Ashden Awards

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