Firms consider scaling back Green Deal plans after Cameron blocks so-called ‘conservatory tax’

Construction firms are considering scaling back their Green Deal plans following this week’s move by the prime minister to block proposals for a so-called ‘conservatory tax’.

The move by David Cameron, confirmed to Building by government sources, blocks plans unveiled in January as part of wider reforms to Part L of the Building regulations to force people to upgrade the energy efficiency of their homes when building extensions. These were previously trumpeted by ministers as vital to boost uptake of the Green Deal.

In a further blow to the government’s flagship energy efficiency scheme, it also emerged this week that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) plans to cap the roll-out of the scheme, placing a limit of 50 Green Deal agreements per day when it launches the scheme in October, rising to 200 by December as part of its “controlled launch”.

This is massively short of the 1,000 installations a day needed to meet the government’s objective of 3.6m domestic installations to be completed by 2022 and has left the industry fearing the government’s “soft launch” will undermine the scheme from the outset.

David Adams, director of energy at Willmott Dixon Energy Services, said the prime minister’s intervention meant the Green Deal now lacked a real driver of demand and risked becoming a niche initiative.

“This will clearly influence how we develop our business models. We are still committed to this agenda but we will need to reflect on what that means in the early months of the scheme,” he said.

Willmott Dixon is among 22 firms that have signed an agreement with DECC to work to become providers of the Green Deal.

Bosses of three of the other firms on the list also said they were disappointed with the prime minister’s intervention.

James Willcox, sustainability manager at contractor Interserve, said: “It will be detrimental to the Green Deal scheme overall because it will rely so much on individual consumer awareness and on word of mouth.”

David Cameron moved to quash the changes to Part L of the Building Regulations this week following outcries in the national media that they would amount to a “tax on conservatories”, even though the plans do not apply to conservatories under 30m2.

Luciana Berger, Labour’s shadow climate change minister, said the U-turn had “damaged” the Green Deal. “The first national press coverage we have seen of it has been negative,” she said.