The government is coming under renewed pressure to publish its review into domestic energy efficiency and renewable energy standards, which was launched last year in response to the controversial shake-up of green building policies.
Chaired by Peter Bonfield, chief executive of the BRE Group, the Bonfield Review was due to be published in April, but was delayed by local elections and the EU referendum campaign
Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak Steve McCabe has commented saying the government’s delay in publishing the review “adds to a sense of disillusionment with energy policy and the feeling that, as far as Theresa May’s administration is concerned, ‘home energy policy’ and ‘carbon emissions’ have failed to make it onto the government’s list of priorities”.
“We need a commitment to a radical and diversified energy policy which includes a mixture of investment incentives, loan schemes, reforms to property law and clear communication with homeowners,” he wrote. “The Bonfield Review promised to be the catalyst for delivering such initiatives. It’s high time the government published it before they embark on any more expensive and confusing energy policy U-turns.”
The Bonfield Review was announced on the same day as the government controversially announced it was to stop issuing new loans through the Green Deal energy efficiency financing scheme.
The Review was launched to carry out an “independent review of consumer protection, advice, standards and enforcement for UK housing energy efficiency and renewable energy”, and is expected to play a key role in informing the green housing policy framework.
In response to McCabe’s article, a spokeswoman for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) told BusinessGreen: “This is an independent review that was jointly commissioned in 2015 by the former Secretaries of State for DECC and DCLG, Amber Rudd and Greg Clark. The review is ongoing and its recommendations will be published in due course.”
Richard Twinn, policy adviser at the Green Building Council, suggested the delay to the Bonfield Review could have diverted attention from the development of a new Green Deal replacement.
“As the Bonfield Review has got more delayed it has focused officials’ minds more on delivering ECO,” he told BusinessGreen. “So at the moment we haven’t seen any sort of proposal for what a more comprehensive policy package would look like. We are solely stuck with ECO and the minimum standards at the moment.”
But he warned it is unlikely that the Review, when it is published, will deliver ideas for a new flagship energy efficiency policy. “We are very keen to see the outcomes from the Bonfield Review because it should help the industry to understand much better what it should be doing and help with driving standards, but I don’t see any imminent prospect of there being some whizzy new policy on the other side of it that the government is going to come out with,” he said.
Twinn called on the government to start work on a longer-term strategy that embeds energy efficiency into the heart of infrastructure policy. “We need to be building the supply chain now, coming up with solutions for harder-to-reach properties and integrating efficiency and heat, and none of that is really being dealt with at the moment,” he said.
To that end, the UK Green Building Council is calling on the government to make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority, which would come under the remit of the National Infrastructrue Commission, set up by former chancellor George Osborne last year with the aim of “shaking Britain out of its infrastructure inertia”.