The DECC report leaves many questions unanswered

David Adams

Impact assessments are not noted for their accessibility. The Department of Energy and Climate Change’s one on the proposed changes to the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) is even more impenetrable than usual. 

It contrasts the new plan against Business As Usual rather than with any strategic plan to haul the UK from its position at the bottom of the league of the most energy efficient homes in Europe. 

There also isn’t an examination of the impact of the changes on the business community.  

Over the last 12 months UK companies have invested huge amounts in industry capacity, skills and training as well as council and registered provider procurement programmes. 

For me, one big question still remains: will the government blink again as 2017 approaches? 

Although removing the uncertainty about ECO beyond March 2015 is undoubtedly helpful, fixing activity at a low level through to 2017 is a blow to those companies who have been gearing up to respond to this important agenda.

So, given that cuts to ECO are a foregone conclusion and reading the consultation will take hours of your life that you will never get back - should you respond at all? Unquestionably yes.  

The consultation asks some important questions and our responses may guide some of the decision-making around implementation.

But for me, one big question still remains: will the government blink again as 2017 approaches? 

Nothing has been proposed to mitigate the stop-start design of the energy efficiency programmes. Boom-bust is still on the cards. 

And will UK businesses be as keen to respond next time?

In the meantime, perhaps the election will bring us a structural incentive, such as linking stamp duty with energy performance, to encourage householders to invest in the energy efficiency of their homes?

David Adams is technical director of Willmott Dixon