Scottish Government warned heat-pumps plan is ‘unrealistic’

A lack of construction-sector capacity means a proposed legal deadline to remove gas boilers in buildings north of the border is unachievable, Scottish ministers have been warned by advisers.

The Regulatory Review Group (RRG), which advises Scottish ministers on new legislation, has voiced “significant concerns” about the 2045 target in the Scottish Government’s Heat in Buildings Bill.

The body warned that a plan to introduce heat pumps, electric storage heaters, heat networks or other green heating solutions to all homes and non-domestic buildings by that date was “unrealistic”.

In a letter to the Scottish Government, Professor Russel Griggs, chair of the group, voiced “significant concerns” that there was a “limited understanding of market preparedness”.

The bill, tabled in November, proposes a “prohibition on polluting heating” by 2045.

Griggs also warned Mairi McAllan, Scotland’s cabinet secretary for wellbeing, economy, net zero and energy, that the government had not identified a regulator for the sector, according to The Herald.

“While focused on helping Scotland reach its net zero by 2045 target, the proposals contained within the Heat in Buildings Bill will have to be well-developed, tested and communicated to ensure they can be successfully implemented,” he said.

“There are also clear economic opportunities for the Scottish economy if sequencing is clear and support for upskilling is provided.”

Griggs, who was writing on behalf of the RRG, called on Scottish ministers to provide more information on how the proposed 2045 deadline would be reached, and on their assessment of how prepared consumers and the supply chain are.

Griggs also warned that a lack of expertise in the market to carry out the change could open the market to “rogue traders”.

He added: “For this policy to be effectively implemented, the supply chain will need to be able to satisfy consumer demand created by legislative intervention and it is unclear whether this will be the case.”

He therefore called on the Scottish Government to develop a workforce with the necessary skills to take on the challenge.

“Detail will need to be set out around how the Scottish Government will support and fund education to upskill the workforce for installation and repair of alternative heat sources,” he said.

Griggs also called for information around which buildings will fall under the new legislation. Creating a situation when every building will need to comply with new rules would need “significant regulatory resources”, Griggs said.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said it remained committed to the bill.

“[It] will dramatically increase how quickly Scotland moves to clean heat, so that we tackle climate change and ensure everyone in Scotland has a warm, affordable home to live in,” they added.

“As part of delivering a New Deal for Business, Scottish ministers asked the RRG to examine the business and regulation impact of our proposals.

“We welcome the independent views of the group along with all submissions to the consultation, and we will give a full response as we develop our final proposals.”

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