Local leaders express alarm over reported plan to abandon imminent clean heat policy

Local leaders express alarm over reported plan to abandon imminent clean heat policy

The UK’s only cross-party network for ambitious local climate action, UK100, has expressed serious concerns regarding reports that the Government is considering abandoning the Clean Heat Market Mechanism (CHMM). 

The CHMM was designed to support the uptake of low carbon heating systems, such as heat pumps, by setting sales targets for manufacturers coupled with penalties for non-compliance.

Responding to the speculation that Ministers are planning to drop the policy just months before it is due to be implemented, UK100 Co-President and Leader of Wiltshire Council, Cllr Richard Clewer said: “I would be extremely concerned at any action that reduces the imperative on industry to increase delivery of carbon neutral heating systems. We need to see the heat pump industry expand to deliver the economies of scale that will eventually make it affordable to everyone. Government legislation is, frustratingly, required to help drive that expansion.”

Christopher Hammond, UK100 Chief Executive and a former council leader, commented: “There’s no good spin here. By abandoning the Clean Heat Market Mechanism it severely undermines local authority efforts to cut emissions from housing within their communities. With the mechanism only months away from taking effect, any reversal risks sending mixed signals to industry and consumers alike about the UK’s commitment to low carbon heat. Warm words won’t build confidence when cold water is being poured on effective policy-making. Delay now, and without a clear path on how you’ll deliver clean heat, means more costs later.”

Cllr Mike McKeown, Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Sustainability at Cotswold District Council, said: “This hesitation not only underscores a failure to lead in the transition to sustainable technology but also signals a disregard for the economic and environmental welfare of our nation.

“The Government’s backpedalling on crucial climate initiatives not only undermines our collective efforts to combat climate change but also places an undue strain on local governments. Already grappling with chronic underfunding, local authorities are tasked with encouraging and supporting climate action within their communities. This task is made significantly harder by the government’s reluctance to firmly commit to and invest in sustainable technologies.”

Christopher Hammond added: “Our recent Powers in Place report highlighted how constantly moving goalposts and not following through with commitments, undermines local delivery of local efforts to deliver warmer homes that are more affordable to run. Consistent, stable policy is vital for planning and supply chain growth. Backtracking now squanders an opportunity to build momentum behind this crucial technology transition.”

Cllr McKeown said: “With the UK lagging behind most of Europe in heat pump uptake and grappling with some of Europe’s most poorly insulated homes, it’s clear that we’re missing out on a pivotal opportunity to secure jobs, stimulate economic growth, and invest in a sector where Europe, the US, and China are making huge investments. The Government’s indecision echoes a pattern of economic short-sightedness that risks leaving the UK in the dust, economically and technologically… It’s time for the Government to align its actions with the urgent need for climate resilience and economic innovation, rather than yielding to outdated industries.”

Cllr Clewer concluded: “If we fail to act now to reduce carbon emissions, our children and grandchildren will inherit a much more challenging and much less pleasant world than we did.”

Header image: ©Nimur/AdobeStock

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