Labour criticised for ‘short-sighted political manoeuvre’ by rolling back green investment plans

Latest News Mon, Feb 12, 2024 7:54 AM

The announcement last week by Labour leader Kier Starmer that his party will scale back its flagship green prosperity plan has been roundly criticised by the industry.

The policy will not be dropped altogether, but the party is ditching the financial target to spend £28bn a year on environmental schemes.

RIBA President Muyiwa Oki said: “With the climate emergency intensifying, 19 million UK homes are still in dire need of upgrading. Ambitious and sustained investment from whomever forms the next Government, and the private sector, will be critical to address the scale of this challenge.

“And there’s a solution. We must futureproof homes with a well-funded National Retrofit Strategy - a long-term plan that will also create jobs, boost green skills and level up the country.

“Act now, or future generations will pay the price. As ever, we stand ready to contribute to creating a more sustainable and resilient built environment - to making the future a better place.”

Simon McWhirter, Deputy Chief Executive of UK Green Building Council said: “Labour’s climb-down from its ambitious green investment commitment would represent a colossally short-sighted political manoeuvre. Dialing-up investment in our net zero future is not just the consensus recommendation of the vast majority of industry, business, and society – it is central to Labour’s promise to bring down household energy bills and revitalise the UK’s towns, cities, and infrastructure.

“Stimulating our green economy with clear, robust policy commitments is the most fiscally prudent and economically beneficial strategy for tackling the UK’s most chronic problems, including energy security, cost of living, long-term health and social challenges, and climate breakdown. Political leaders must recognise the green economy for the transformative opportunity it is instead of mischaracterising it as an unaffordable luxury. This is mission critical for our country, our people, and our planet.

“We hope that all parties, including Labour, will soon provide firm and ambitious commitments to the green economy as a whole – including a nationwide home energy efficiency upgrade drive powered by government investment and incentives, and a comprehensive policy portfolio that plugs existing gaps and charts a course to a net zero, climate resilient future for the UK.”

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) said it is disappointing that the Labour Party has decided to roll back its ambition to retrofit 19 million homes to just five million.

“Sadly, this is just one of many damaging and disjointed policy efforts over the last decade to deliver green upgrades, which every time ends up hitting the confidence of industry and consumers,” he said. “What is needed is clear leadership with a decisive long-term plan to improve the UK’s housing stock. Retrofitting the UK’s 28 million homes, the oldest in Europe, would help stimulate economic growth in every community but time after time the opportunity to do so is lost.

“The now much reduced plans by Labour to only retrofit five million homes over five years is simply not enough. It will barely scratch the surface of the owner occupier market, leaving many old homes woefully unfit for the future or capable of efficiently running new heating technology, like heat pumps.

“Political parties need to think carefully about the opportunities retrofitting can provide, it is ultimately a driver for economic growth. Stop-start efforts have plagued green policy initiatives for years and will continue set the UK back, leaving homes unhealthy, cold and draughty into the future.”

Meanwhile, Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC, said the UK is a global leader on climate change and the green transition must be at the heart of any economic plan to drive the growth we so desperately need: “At a time of significant economic challenge, it is crucial that any policies to support the transition to Net Zero remain financially credible.

“Businesses fully understand this and want to engage, but they need consistency, and changes in policy can have a destabilising effect.

“It is encouraging that Labour stands by its commitment to clean energy by 2030, the development of Great British Energy and investment in green skills.

“To reach Net Zero will require a partnership between the private and public sectors to unlock investment across our economy.

“The Chamber Network is already heavily involved in the supply chains for Hinkley and Sizewell, and initiatives to provide crucial funding for green innovation.

“But a robust green strategy focused on delivery across the economy must be underpinned by clear and consistent messaging.”

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