Energy efficiency measures 'eliminate need for fracking'

Published on Monday, 16 June 2014 10:50
Written by Govtoday staff

Ambitious new proposals designed to address the UK energy crisis by eliminating the need for large scale fracking and avoiding the need for 400 new wells to be developed, are set out in a Unison report to be released at the union's annual energy conference in Brighton.

The union is proposing a cost-neutral national programme of energy efficiency measures that would ensure every UK domestic property complies with the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) at Band C within 15 years. This would preserve precious local gas supplies currently being lost through poor insulation, saving consumers between £300 and £600 each year.

The UK is quickly reaching crisis point with dwindling gas supplies, and within the next five years will need to import up to 70% of gas from other countries.

The free door-to-door assessment programme would identify remedial works required for every house to meet the minimum standard. The union is proposing that low income households would receive the work free at the point of delivery, but capped at a maximum of £10,000. Households not classed as low income would have access to a 10 year interest free loan.

The report comes in the wake of the Queen's Speech this month where the government confirmed it would press ahead with legislation that would allow fracking companies to run shale gas lines through private property without permission.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "The UK's energy supplies have reached crisis point and the government must take action to bring millions of households in from the cold. Unless the government invests in a long-term strategy to preserve our dwindling North Sea gas supplies, we will be relying on expensive imported energy and wide scale fracking for shale gas."

The comprehensive set of measures would wipe out the scandal of fuel poverty for five million households and address the soaring increase in winter mortalities. UK householders spend a staggering £32bn on energy each year, more than double that of 2003.

The UK has the oldest housing stock in the EU, with older houses requiring at least twice as much energy to stay warm as homes in similar developed nations. 15% of the population live in houses that are officially classed as "leaky", which means a dwelling with a leaking roof, dramp walls or floors or rot in the window frames or doors.

The programme would be paid for using existing resources already allocated for energy efficiency measures, together with carbon taxes, levies already included in energy bills and money which is being used to enourage other forms of investment into the energy sector, including decarbonising electricity. Energy efficiency schemes carried out in Germany and the Czech Republic have shown that the growth in economic activity and increasing government revenues can make such a comprehensive scheme cost-neutral.

Such a scheme would also make significant inroads into helping the UK meet its legally binding carbon emission target, to reduce carbon emissions by 34% of 1990 levels by 2020.

Dave Prentis said: "The UK is lagging behind the rest of Europe when it comes to the amount of energy that is wasted because of poorly insulated homes, and the Government's inability to deal with increased energy prices. The country is being put at the mercy of international markets by increasingly relying on imported gas supplies."

Source: Unison

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