Future rural heating policy kept secret until after local elections

21st Apr 2023


The future heating homes in rural areas has been kept secret until after the local elections, claims the CEO of leading trade body Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA), Mike Foster.

His claim comes as the industry waits for the Government response to a consultation that closed 15 months ago.

In the consultation, the Government’s plan was to ban the replacement of fossil fuel boilers, oil and LPG, from 2026 accepting that consumers would face considerably higher costs paying for the Government’s preferred replacement, a heat pump.

The average cost of heat pump installation, according to the Government, is £13,000 compared to a replacement oil boiler for under £3000. In addition, the annual running cost of a heat pump is £495 or 70 per cent more than an oil boiler. Because of these damning statistics and the political fallout that would follow from the Government confirming their policy, the decision has been made to delay publication of their final plans until after the May local elections.

Commenting on the decision to keep the finalised policy secret until then, Mike Foster said:

“Forcing people to switch from an oil boiler to a heat pump will involve a huge financial outlay for the consumer. Finding £13,000 when if boiler breaks down is a burden very few can afford. Paying an extra 70 per cent a year for your heat and hot water is simply unaffordable. The Government recognise this, so are keeping their final plans secret until after the local elections”

“Just before Easter the Government published huge swathes of documents about the future of energy, they could have published their off-gas grid policy then. Choosing not to do so was a very political decision. Hiding the truth from the rural voters who are going to the polls this May means the next time these local elections are fought, it will be 2027, too late to protest and the policy will be in place. It’s a clever wheeze to avoid being held accountable.”

“For the opposition, they too are sleep walking into an electoral trap. If they do win the next general election, they will face the voter backlash from a policy agreed by the current Government. It will be no comfort for the hard-pressed consumer to be told that it is all the fault of the previous Government. When you can’t afford a new heating system, can’t afford to turn it on and are banned by law from buying a cheaper replacement boiler then that political problem will fall to whoever forms the next Government.”