Our latest newsletter is now available covering next month’s members’ forum, help needed with our work with town & parish councils, the economics of biodiversity, the Interim Devon Plan, Bill Gates and his new book, TDC’s progress with the climate & ecological emergencies and the almost failed Green Homes Grant scheme.
Cllr. Jackie Hook, executive member for Climate Change, Flooding and Coastal Defence reported to Teignbridge District Council’s (TDC) Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 9th February 2021.
Here is a video clip of her report
She reported on TDC’s work on Climate change and the Ecological Emergency:
- TDC appointed William Elliot in February 2020 as Climate Change Officer
- TDC has met regularly with ACT to discuss direction and progress on the climate and ecological agenda.
- In October 2019 policy S7 of the current local plan was amended to uplift the carbon reduction by 2030 from 42% to 48%. The carbon calculator has been updated to only consider building emissions.
- A new draft local plan for 2020 – 2040 has been published including a whole chapter on climate change and went to consultation March to July 2020.
- University of Exeter is developing a low carbon strategy to determine where and how renewable energy generation and low carbon development should feature in the district, and will feature in Part 2 of the local plan.
- South West Exeter District Heating Network will supply low-carbon heat to 2,500 new homes, using waste energy from Matford.
- Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure and Ultra Low Emission Vehicles policy
- Rapid EV Chargers in Chudleigh and Buckfastleigh as part of Highways England Scheme.
- Authority participating in DELETTI and will install double rapid EV chargers in four of Teignbridge’s AQMAs.
- Shortlist of 12 sites selected in collaboration with parish councils for On-street Residential Charging Scheme (ORSCS) in car parks.
- Draft local plan requires installation of EV chargers in new development.
- Joint bid submitted under the Cosy Devon partnership to delivery energy efficiency improvements for low-income households. A further bid for £1.14M has been submitted to deliver authority led improvements.
- The Authority has participated in the Solar Together scheme. 917 solar PV and 153 battery storage systems are proposed as part of the scheme across Devon.
- Low-carbon social housing projects include Drake Road, East Street and Sherbourne House. These will achieve high carbon and energy standard and feature Air Source Heat Pumps and EV charging points.
- William Elliot has been measuring the authority’s own carbon footprint, annually Scope 1 & 2 emissions are 2Mt CO2 and Scope 3 emissions 6.7Mt
- The Authority is currently working on a Carbon Action Plan to identify a cost and carbon efficient pathway to becoming carbon neutral, which will cover about 40 projects across 15 buildings owned by the authority. A budget of £E3.6M over 2021-2024 has been allocated, and a grant application for £3.1M has been submitted covering seven sites, which could deliver a combined reduction of 400 tonnes of CO2/yr. A full report will be submitted to Executive Council in April 2021.
- TDC is a signatory of the Devon Climate Emergency and is supporting the Devon Carbon Plan, the consultation on the interim plan has just ended, following a Citizen’s Assembly the final Devon Carbon Plan is due for adoption by Local Authorities in summer 2021.
- Following the declaration of an Ecological emergency in September 2020, plans are in hand to plant 1,500 trees in Q1 2021 in partnership with the Woodland Trust and Idverde. A tree strategy is progressing and a draft will be available for consultation in Q1 2021. The Authority has committted £5,000 to Devon Wildlife Trust to support a habitat mapping exercise.
- It was reported that ACT’s Wildlife Warden Scheme has received 75 applications and has trained 50 wardens to date.
The green homes grant scheme caught my attention as soon as it was launched in September 2020. It looked worth investigating, but my attempt to use it soon came up against obstacles. It proved difficult to find either independent advice on the most important and appropriate improvements to my home, or an installer authorised to do whatever work was needed.
Hearing that there are now authorised installers and assessors in the area, I have just tried to re-engage with the scheme. It proved frustrating.
The grant covers up to two-thirds of the cost of energy efficiency improvements you make to your home, to a maximum of £5,000 (or 100% of the cost up to £10,000 if you qualify for the low income support scheme). So it’s financially attractive (although recent stories in the Guardian show there are long delays in giving out grants and money is being withdrawn).
The biggest weakness in the scheme, and why I consider it not fit for purpose, is that eligibility is not dependent on any sort of whole house assessment. Moreover, it enables, if not encourages, you to fit a new more energy efficient source of heating, at a cost of maybe £10,000, when your home insulation remains inadequate or even non-existent, which is like putting new taps on a bath without a plug.
However, if you know which of the eligible improvements your home needs, the scheme could work for you. It is currently set to run until 31st March 2022. Here’s how it went for me.
The grant scheme’s website suggests you seek advice on the improvements to make. However, when you follow the link to check your eligibility you are sent to the Simple Energy Advice (SEA) website to check out the sort of improvements that might be suitable, based partly on the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) registered for your property.
After several pages of questions and, in my case increasing confusion, you are presented with a “Now build your plan” page with suggested improvements and the likely costs. You select the improvements that take your fancy and are then taken to a “Make your plan” page enabling you to download the details to present to your installer(s).
Whether I’m just unlucky, or too picky, this process didn’t work for me. For example, you are asked what type of roof insulation you have, either pitched or flat roof, insulated or not insulated, or don’t know. I have both types of roof but as the pitched roof covers the majority of the home and is insulated I chose that option.
My EPC tells me that, at 100mm, my insulation is insufficient and that it should be increased to 270mm, but by selecting the insulated option, roof insulation doesn’t appear on my plan.
Similarly, with the wall insulation question, you are asked if you have cavity or solid walls, insulated or not insulated or don’t know. I have a couple of solid walls but the majority are cavity, but the EPC is silent on whether or not they are insulated and so I chose “don’t know”. This only put cavity wall insulation into my plan, with no mention of solid wall insulation, but it’s pointless having it in the plan as I don’t know if I need it.
My hopes for floor insulation were also soon dashed. Options for answers to “What sort of floor insulation do you have?” were: don’t know, solid floor, suspended floor or none. I have a suspended floor with no insulation, so selected “none” but, mysteriously, was only presented with solid floor insulation in my plan, at a cost of £5,000.
Finally, but not exhaustively, the plan suggested a new condensing boiler (when I said I already had one) and upgrading my double glazing, neither of which qualify for the grant.
If and when you are lucky enough to be happy with your plan, you are directed to the SEA site to find an authorised installer for each of the 30 eligible improvements. In other words, you have to choose a home improvement measure before being shown appropriate installers.
It doesn’t, however, offer you authorised advisors to help you decide what sort of insulation or heating improvement you need and in what order. For this I referred to the Trustmark website, where all authorised people are registered, and where you can search in your area for retrofit assessors or coordinators under standard PAS 2035.
So, in my case, “The Plan” is to contact one of these to help work out what is best for my home and the planet, regardless of whether the green homes grant should play a part.
As the first in what we hope will be a series, we are running the above online Zoom event to cover some of the issues, relating to the climate and ecological emergencies, which are important to our members.
We want to attract as many members as possible and to get the ball rolling would ask you to complete this questionnaire to suggest topics we should cover, in the form of questions.
You’ll see we have suggested a few questions of our own that you can score and then you can add up to five of your own, in order of importance, along with any other ideas you may have.
Based on your responses we will select questions for this first forum for a panel discussion and will also give you the opportunity to participate in a question and answer “chat” session.
If you can’t make it, don’t worry, we will record the session and no doubt follow it up with others.
Hope you can join us.
I remember as a student putting a shilling (2.5p) in the meter to run one bar of an electric fire for an hour to heat my single room. The heat was soon lost again due to poor insulation.
I now live in a large house heated to a steady 21C by an air source heat pump that uses less energy per hour than the one bar fire did to heat a single room, even in cold weather. It also heats water twice a day to 55C.
Our heat pump works by extracting heat from the air outside and using it to heat water, which then circulates through the underfloor heating system. This works well because the floor area radiating heat is much larger than traditional radiators, so the circulating water does not need to be as hot as in a conventional system. The key point is that the electrical energy needed to run the pump is much lower than the heat energy it provides.
Many households will need to replace their gas or oil boilers with heat pumps if we are to have any chance of reaching the government’s net zero carbon target by 2050. Heating accounted for nearly one third of UK household greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, according to the Energy Saving Trust. We need to cut heating emissions by 95% to reach net zero by 2050, it says.
So far we have made little progress. Currently, biomass is the main source of low emission heat in British homes, primarily supplied via wood burning stoves. Around 1 million homes make use of this energy source, according to the Climate Change Committee, which advises the UK government. Heat pumps account for fewer than one in 100 sales a year of heating systems and show little sign of becoming more popular.
Part of the problem is that heat pumps work best in houses that are well insulated and airtight. That makes them a good choice for new build houses. My house, for example, was built 10 years ago and designed for maximum energy efficiency. It is an oak framed building with insulated wall and roof panels, underfloor insulation and triple glazed windows. Plus solar panels and the heat pump. It has an Energy Performance Certificate rating of A and is as airtight as possible while still being well ventilated.
Installations in older buildings are possible but it is important to obtain a professional whole house heat loss calculation so that the heat pump and radiators or underfloor heating are correctly sized. If this is not done a heat pump may not work well.
It is likely you will have to improve your home’s insulation before you can install a heat pump, but this is an investment worth making however you decide to heat your home. It will reduce your energy use, which is the first step to decarbonising your home.