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Ewen Rose Sep 21, 2023 5:53:55 PM 2 min read

Sunak playing a ‘dangerous game’ warns BESA


Houses-OfLords-Blog-BannerThe Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) says the Prime Minister’s decision to water down energy and environmental policies should come as no surprise as there never was a “proper plan” for delivery.

It welcomed some of the measures included in the announcement and the apparent focus on making the targets more achievable but warned that the government was playing a “dangerous game with business confidence”.

“It has been clear for some time that political will was wavering and that there never was a coherent plan for meeting net zero targets,” said the Association’s chief executive officer David Frise.

“This constant chopping and changing on policy is hugely damaging to business confidence. It makes it much harder to persuade the relevant companies to invest in the necessary technology, processes, and skills,” he added.

“Building engineering contractors are justifiably suspicious of any new ‘initiatives’ announced by government because so many have been dumped in the past. This damages their credibility yet further and many firms could delay making changes, believing the government will shift policy at the last minute whenever something becomes politically difficult.

“The Building Safety Act is a particular concern and any change of tack on that would be disastrous for the future of the industry,” said Frise.

“If we had enacted the Zero Carbon Homes plan as agreed in 2016, we would have been much further down the road by now and the energy crisis would have had less impact.”

BESA hosted an event earlier this year when a former political advisor to Theresa May admitted there had been “absolutely no plan” about how to meet the 2050 target when she announced it as government policy. “And, as she famously said, ‘nothing has changed’,” added Frise.

The Association welcomed the additional funding for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. However, it warned against a proposal that the £7,500 funding towards a heat pump would be available without applicants having to make the necessary energy efficiency upgrades to their homes to ensure the technology performed to its full potential.

It also called for the government to stick by plans to force property landlords to meet energy efficiency upgrade targets.

“Refurbishment and retrofitting of buildings is an essential underpinning part of net zero that will also cut energy bills for the ‘hard pressed families’ the Prime Minister says he wants to support,” said Frise.

“Sunak should also not lose sight of the fact that the push for net zero is good for business as it will create jobs and allow us to export our expertise.”

Frise called for an end to “government by announcement” so the engineering and construction sectors could plan with confidence and focus on the new timetable for delivery.

“I still believe we can get to net zero by 2050, but it won’t be because of a series of government announcements. It will be because engineers have worked out how to do it and businesses have invested in the technologies and the talent to make it deliverable,” he said.