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Green green grass of home!!

January 26, 2021 7:04 PM

0ge8 (Photo by Waranya Mooldee on Unsplash)Our thoughts turned to the Tom Jones classic with two pieces of news which suggested that the governments green credentials are in need of a lot of attention

1 Green Homes Grant

The scheme run by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, was launched last autumn, with the website up and running on 30 September.. Members of the public can claim vouchers of up to £5,000 to pay for two-thirds of the work to replace fossil fuel heat systems with renewable energy appliances such as solar thermals or heat pumps.

Homeowners who are on benefits can claim up to £10,000. Local authorities are also able to apply for work on their properties. Installers have to be registered with Trust Mark - which charges the installers £30 plus VAT to log each job. It aims to help 600,000 households switch their energy to low carbon and help the UK meet its commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. and £2bn was allocated when it was announced

A story in todays Guardian suggests the scheme is in chaos

Members of the public have been left waiting nearly four months, in some cases, to take advantage of the scheme to fit low carbon heating systems. Some installers say customers are pulling out after losing faith in the green grants.

Ministers awarded the contract to run the programme to ICF, a large American consulting corporation based in Virginia. Details of the value of the government contract have not yet been published.

Companies involved in installing heat pumps and solar thermal heating say they are laying off workers and struggling to stay afloat. Some are refusing to do more work until they are paid the tens of thousands of pounds owed for work dating back to last autumn.

"It is a desperate situation from everyone's point of view, not just the installers," said Bryan Glendinning, chief executive officer of Engenera, based in Newcastle. "This scheme was supposed to create jobs, but it is not doing that. We were ready to go last autumn, we had set up a call centre for 40 staff, I have now got two in there."

Glendinning says he has 300 potential customers, some of whom have been waiting since September for vouchers from the scheme to get their renewable heating systems installed.

He told the Guardian that only 61 householders had been given the vouchers to go ahead. He has installed six systems but has not been paid for any by the government, and so far is out of pocket £250,000 from the scheme.

2. The Environment Bill

The government has announced this flagship pieces of legislation has been delayed by at least six months after the government ran out of time to pass it in the current parliamentary session. while the government tries to deal with the coronavirus crisis

The landmark legislation will introduce, for the first time, a broad range of legal targets for air quality, biodiversity, water quality, and waste reduction, but will now be brought back to parliament at the start of the next session, in May, and is expected to receive Royal Assent - at which point it will take effect - by Autumn this year

The timing means it may only just scrape through parliament ahead of the UK's hosting of the Cop26 UN climate conference, scheduled to take place in Glasgow in November.

Friends of the Earth campaigner Kierra Box said: "Boris Johnson's flagship environment bill was already riddled with loopholes and omissions, and it now appears to be listing badly.

"This delay is not the action of a government wanting to demonstrate world leadership on the environmental crisis.

"Ministers must get on with the urgent task of cutting pollution, improving biodiversity, and stemming the flow of plastic waste pouring into our environment."

Greenpeace UK's head of politics, Rebecca Newsom, said "Time and time again the government tells us that 'urgent action' is needed to restore nature, that it will 'build back greener' and that we can't afford to 'dither and delay'. What then is it playing at by delaying the most important piece of environmental legislation for decades?

"This bill was supposed to leave our environment in a better state for the next generation, but at this rate it'll be the next generation who have to clean up the mess. With the global biodiversity summit later this year, and the UK hosting the global climate conference, we should be raising our environmental standards and setting an example for others to follow, rather than allowing the nature crisis to continue to spiral."

When the government announced its green strategy last Autumn we welcomed its ambitious targets but doubted the plans were in place to deliver. ( See http://southsuffolklibdems.org.uk/en/article/2020/1383796/two-cheers-for-climate-proposalsSince these doubts have grown. Allowing a new coal mine to be dug in Cumbria and approving £29bn of road improvements but only £5bn of new green investment suggest that the green agenda may be taking a back seat

It could be that the incompetence shown by this government in fighting covid and keeping our kids educated has simply permeated its way into environmental policies as well. Either way we need much more urgent action to protect our environment than currently is being shown. Compared to the Liberal Democrats £150bn green investment plan this is really playing round the edges