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Green deal to be delivered street by street with DECC funding

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 July 2013 at 10:26 am

Plans by the government for energy efficiency experts to go street-by-street to encourage people to make their homes warmer and cheaper to heat have met with suspicion on Twitter. Concerns expressed are mainly about conmen and pressure sales.

But how likely is that in reality?

The local communities scheme announced yesterday by DECC makes £20m available for local authorities to bid for £20m to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Launching the scheme, Energy and Climate Change Minster Greg Barker said: "If we are going to deliver the green deal at real scale then we need a 'street-by-street' vision and a 'street-by-street' plan! It starts here! However, local authorities really know their areas best. They know which streets and properties could most benefit from a green deal to improve their energy efficiency, and what local people need to provide them with a greater choice."

There are already conmen out there pretending to be be green deal assessors, and certainly people should always be wary of who they let in the door. But adding local authorities into the mix could help to protect people from these conmen, by setting high standards for the people they work with, and contacting residents before the street teams visit.

Research indicates that people trust the council more than they trust private companies. Consumer Focus undertook research* into the benefits of energy efficiency prior to the launch of the green deal. It found "for the public sector insulation schemes positioning the Council as the ‘messenger’ is considered vital to build the trust of consumers, especially when there is competition from private providers".

In her action plan for a low carbon housing strategy**, Brenda Boardman said that local authorities "are the vanguard in the battle to reduce household carbon emissions, creating low-carbon zones ... Improvements to the building envelope are undertaken for whole streets at a time, to include solid wall insulation, solar hot water, photovoltaics and/or combined heat and power. ... The local authorities ensure there are advice centres to help all households make changes, they require energy efficiency improvement as a condition of planning permission and many set up energy service companies."

I hope that there are ambitious and forward looking local authorities that will adopt some or all of Brenda Boardman's vision, and that they will win some of this funding to put their plans into place. There are already ambitious plans in the north east, Birmingham and Bristol. I'm sure that more will follow. Sadly, I don't expect that my local authority, where there are plenty of hard to leaky solid wall houses, will be in the vanguard!

*What's in it for me?, Consumer Focus June 2012

** Home Truths: a low-carbon strategy to reduce UK housing emissions by 80% by 2050 by Brenda Boardman, University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute, November 2007.

Photo Credit: szeke via Compfight cc

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