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Friday 15th March, 2019

Spring statement 2019: Accelerating the shift to a healthy planet

Posted by Kirsty Lambert

This week, the Chancellor presented his Spring Statement to Parliament and we’ve compiled the green bits relating to the housing and energy sector (and most importantly, heat networks)!

So far, 2019 has been dominated by Brexit talks but thankfully there is brighter news on the economy!

On Wednesday, the Chancellor delivered his statement on how the economy has continued to grow, with wage increases, unemployment at historic lows and providing a solid foundation on which to build Britain’s economic future. But what’s to be expected in the months/years to come?

Clean growth strategy

The budget from 2018 set out how the Government is to accelerate the shift to a clean economy, building on the industrial strategy, clean growth strategy, and 25-year environment plan.  The statement refines these points further with the following actions:

Climate targets

To meet climate targets, the Government will advance the decarbonisation of gas supplies by increasing the proportion of green gas in the grid, helping to reduce dependence on burning natural gas in homes and businesses.

Green gas (or biomethane) is a type of gas created from biodegradable material that can be used in the same way as traditional fossil fuel gas for cooking and heating in the home. The main difference between biomethane and fossil fuel gas is that biomethane is virtually carbon neutral, so doesn’t contribute to climate change.

Energy tariffs and the future homes standard

To help ensure consumer energy bills are low and homes are better for the environment, the Government will introduce a Future Homes Standard by 2025, so that new build homes are future-proofed with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency. This mandate will be the end of fossil-fuel heating systems in all new homes by 2025 and the aim to halve the energy use of buildings by 2030; more detail on this will be available in months to come!

Our opinion is that we need high quality homes that are fit for the future and address societal challenges (ideally utilising heat networks too!). Delivering homes that are fit for the future is not only about Energy Efficiency and Carbon Reduction; the Chancellor stated that we must also value our green infrastructure, this means spending time and thought, into how we heat our homes and thinking about innovative ways that are carbon neutral... Look out for more blogs coming soon from us on this subject!

 The broken housing market

The Spring Statement expressed how the Government is determined to fix the broken housing market, building more homes in the right places. It highlighted how in the Autumn Budget 2017, the Government put in place a package of new policies to support housing supply. The Spring statement covered the following:

Supporting private infrastructure investment

The Government have published a consultation on infrastructure finance, seeking views on how the Government can best back private infrastructure investment in the context of the UK’s changing relationship with the European Investment Bank.

They will consider the infrastructure finance market, analyse future challenges, and look at the future role of the Government in ensuring that viable projects can raise the private investment they need. This is another subject to watch out for in our blogs in weeks to come!

Unlocking of finances

£717 million from the £5.5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund has been unlocked to create 37,000 homes at multiple sites in England. This will help keep up with the target of building 300,000 new homes each year. Additionally, the Government will guarantee up to £3 billion of borrowing by housing associations in England to support delivery of around 30,000 affordable homes.

Hello biodiverse developments!

Finally, a leafy mandate; new developments will receive net gains should they include biodiversity on their new developments in England; this ensures that wildlife still prospers along with the necessary infrastructure and housing. (We're looking forward to seeing exotic floral and fauna at new developments to come!) 

Key takeaways

  • The UK economy continues to grow with wages increasing and unemployment at historic lows
  • The Government has accelerated the shift to a clean economy, building on the industrial strategy, clean growth strategy and 25-year environment plan
  • The Future Homes Standard is likely to make a big impact to the building of new developments in years to come – banning the use of fossil fuels in homes in fifteen years’ time
  • The Spring statement outlines great news for heat networks

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Kirsty Lambert

Business Development Director at Switch2

A skilled director and leader with both operational and commercial experience, Kirsty has over 10 years’ experience in the community and district heating industry.

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