“I love the smell of napalm in the morning”
14th Aug 2023
It’s a memorable quote from the movie masterpiece “Apocalypse Now”.
Now call me a “peacenik” but I love the smell of coffee in the morning and that’s exactly what politicians have been doing recently, waking up and smelling the coffee. It was no surprise to read last week that the former Cabinet Minister George Eustice has around 40 MPs backing him to dilute the impact of the proposed oil boiler ban due in 2026. He wants oil boilers to continue but the fuel switched from kerosene to a biofuel, saving 90 per cent of the carbon emitted, rather than a universal heat pump for all policy.
My only question for George and his gang is, “where have you been since 2019?” when this policy was first suggested? When they all voted for net zero, did any of them think of the consequences, or did they take the NIMBY outlook, support the idea except when it gets close to an election, then definitely not in my backyard!
That aside, there has been considerable speculation that government is planning a U-turn on this. And for good reason too. The off gas grid sector has been described as “low hanging fruit” by officials and policymakers, yet arguably it is the very last place you would start to force people down the route of heat pumps and not boilers.
Typically, off grid homes are older, less well insulated, diverse in construction and privately owned. The supporting infrastructure is less well developed, from installers to power network capability. They are mostly represented by Conservative MPs and the homeowners contain a higher proportion of “influencers”. Why on earth start here?
It’s no surprise that Conservative politicians are getting anxious. They face dire opinion polling and the threat of a policy in their backyard that singles out their voters for extreme financial penalties – making ULEZ look like a walk in the park. With this crisis comes an opportunity.
The really smart political move would be to support the proposed change, diluting the policy and challenge the opposition to back it, or be portrayed as the villains in the piece. Watch this space.