Ministers warned

Net zero targets ‘at risk’ after efficiency cuts

John Forster: ‘we risk going backwards’

Cuts to Scotland’s energy efficiency budget will set back the Scottish Government’s hopes of achieving its net-zero targets, according to a key player in the construction sector.

Holyrood ministers are slashing almost £133 million from energy efficiency schemes despite stating that cutting out waste and excess use of energy is a key to reducing carbon emissions.

John Forster, whose Forster Group provides of roofing and solar services, said the cuts will have a “detrimental effect” and the country runs the risk of “going backwards” in making homes and commercial buildings more heat efficient.

“The news that the Scottish Government is planning on cutting millions of pounds from vital schemes designed to support a transition towards a net-zero future is worrying,” said Mr Forster, chair of the eponymous group which services house builders, public sector and community bodies, social housing and commercial landlords, and the agriculture sector.   

“Increased and affordable retrofitting of existing buildings, to help make them more energy efficient, is essential to our net-zero transition.

“However, this wave of cuts, particularly the £45m from the Heat in Buildings capital grants scheme, can only have a detrimental impact on Scotland achieving its net-zero targets.”

Mr Forster’s comments come as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attends the COP27 climate change conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, and a few weeks after the government launched a new body to advise consumers on how to achieve greater energy efficiency.

Mr Forster added: “Just a few weeks ago I praised the Scottish Government following an announcement that it is to consult on reforming planning regulations for solar installations on non-domestic buildings. It’s regrettable that this may now be in jeopardy.  

“With knowledge and awareness of renewable energy among consumers at an all-time high, it is crucial that we harness this and increase the support on offer – not take it away. 

“By removing much needed support, we run the very real risk of going backwards and creating even more of a backlog of houses and buildings which may never be adequately adapted to make them warmer and more efficient.”

The SNP last month launched Heat & Energy Efficiency Scotland (HEES), a virtual agency, that will help consumers cut bills and will co-ordinate the delivery of investment programmes.

It was launched five years after the Scottish government promised a publicly-owned generator – which was dropped last year – and as the Welsh government unveiled its own plans to create a state-backed developer.

Scotland short of SMEs to secure full net zero benefits

A report released by NatWest at the COP27 conference says meeting net zero targets would give Scotland’s economy a £22bn revenue boost between now and 2030.

To realise this revenue opportunity, new businesses need to retrofit homes across the country, as well as service the nation’s renewable electricity infrastructure.

However, current projections show the number of SMEs working in renewables delivering infrastructure – such as electric vehicle charging points, wind turbines and solar panels – will need to more than double (124% growth) by 2030, in order to realise this opportunity.

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