Retrofit programme boosted by early opening of incentive scheme and relaxation of planning regulations

Green for growth - index pic

The government has brought forward the opening of its incentive scheme for the Green Deal and relaxed planning regulations on solid wall installations in a bid to shore up the flagship retrofit programme ahead of its launch at the end of the month.

The Green Deal incentive scheme had been expected to open alongside the Green Deal on 28 January, but energy minister Greg Barker (pictured) said this week that the opening had been brought forward to Monday (14 January).

Greg Barker

Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) officials said the decision was taken in part to bridge the gap between the end of last year’s insulation programmes on 31 December, and the start of the Green Deal at the end of the month.

Bolstering the Green Deal is a key part of Building’s Green for Growth campaign.

Under the incentive scheme people taking up the Green Deal will be able to get up to £650 per measure installed in their home. There is no cap on the amount an individual household can receive. The government also moved to ease planning rules so that householders will not need planning permission to install solid wall insulation.

Planning rules state you are not allowed to extend a building past its principle front elevation without planning permission, raising concerns within the insulation industry that this could hold back installations of solid wall insulation.

But the government has now classed solid wall as an “improvement” to the property, bringing it within the scope of permitted development.

Barker said: “It’s really the solid wall market that is going to be most impacted by the Green Deal. From the get-go we will have a transformation in solid wall installation numbers.”The energy department has indicated the plan for a £25bn Severn Barrage project has “a long way to go” before it could be considered for government backing.

The developer of the proposed barrage Hafren Power, which would generate up to 5% of the UK’s electricity, will need government support to get a Hybrid Bill passed before the project can proceed.

Last week, the plans for the barrage were scrutinized by MPs on the Energy and Climate Change Committee, with Peter Hain, MP, an outspoken championed of the scheme, saying Hafren Power would be willing to agree a guaranteed price for its electricity well below the £170 per MWh that it estimates it will cost to produce the power.

Offshore wind power currently costs around £140 MWh.

Hain said: “They are not asking for anything more than offshore wind gets and the cost will be significantly less because of the [tidal surge] protection it brings to the nation.”

But Tim Yeo, the Conservative chair of the committee, said he had “serious concerns” over the economic viability of a proposed barrage: “How are they going to reconcile that for the 30-years before it [the electricity] becomes much cheaper?

“I think there are some pretty serious concerns on the financial side.”

A Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “So far, we have only seen a very draft and high level outline business case from Hafren Power.

“Even if this proposal can meet our criteria it has a long way to go in development.”