Trust the people.

14th Sep 2020


As a former and recovering politician forgive me for being wary of letting the public have their say. In my humble opinion, they don’t always give the right verdict. That said, I have been interested in the process, supported by Government, of using a Citizen’s Assembly to investigate how the UK plans to achieve Net Zero.

Now the cynics will say the panel wasn’t representative; that they get bounced by more forceful contributors to discussions; they want all the good things to happen without paying for it and that they want the restrictions and costs applied to others and not themselves. There might be some truth in this but let’s not decry the efforts made or the time given by volunteers to consider the matter.

Let’s look at the output. And I’m going to focus on the Chapter called “In the home”. Headline figure, 83 per cent of respondents agreed that hydrogen should be part of how the UK gets to Net Zero. This isn’t the chapter about power or industry or transport, but heating the home. Yes, the two other technologies, heat pumps and heat networks, were also widely supported but no-one is suggesting they don’t have a role to play.

Overwhelmingly, 94 per cent support the view that different parts of the country should be offered different solutions and they want the most cost effective option too. So those on the gas grid could be offered a different solution to those off it – exactly the point we have been making. Those off the gas grid should be offered a range of options and not told what they can have, again something we have been advocating.

The nuance is found in the comments made by the respondents. I’ve gone through the printed list of “Cons” to hydrogen, leaving aside what must be a misprint, this list can easily be ticked off. Indeed, if we can address each of them, in a clear and transparent fashion, we can present to the public a future heating option, they support and with their concerns addressed. Maybe there is something in this “trusting the public” bit after all!

Best wishes

Mike Foster, CEO