Whitehall covered up £705m of Part L savings

30 July 2010

Civil servants covered up potential reductions of £705m in domestic and commercial energy bills linked to the planned extension of Part L in order to help former housing minister John Healey justify scrapping the proposed changes, Building reported.

Last June, Healey removed the proposal, called “consequential improvements”, from the draft consultation on the 2010 revisions to Part L. The £705m estimate of potential savings to consumers and businesses was removed from the mandatory economic impact assessment which shows the financial impact of new regulations.

The Association for the Conservation of Energy said it was told by senior civil servants that Healey instructed them to strip out the savings in the public version of the document after the Cabinet had approved the original document, which the Association has gained access to under the Freedom of Information Act.

It showed the potential savings were 2.3 times greater than the cost of energy efficiency improvements.

The proposed changes would have required homeowners to make energy efficiency improvements to their existing property when adding an extension or converting a garage.

Andrew Warren, the director of the Association, said: “In a sane world, we would be sending the bill for the benefits foregone to the former minister - whose determination to place personal prejudice before practical evidence is even now leading to more emissions and higher fuel bills.”

In a separate story, Building reported that regulations minister Andrew Stunell has shocked builders with plans to bring the planned revision of the Building Regulations forward by a year to 2012.

The Liberal Democrat minister has instructed civil servants to check the feasibility of moving the 2013 Part L review forward a year. He made the announcement at a reception for the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes.

Simon Rawlinson, senior partner at Davis Langdon, said bringing forward the next revision by a year would introduce a lot of uncertainty. “Achieving the next iteration by 2013 was going to be challenging enough. This will introduce a lot of uncertainty into the industry, particularly for materials producers, who rely on the figures to plan forward investment,” he said.

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