The Energy Bill has cleared the House of Lords and is awaiting the final stage of its passage through parliament – Royal Assent. The Bill is expected to come into law soon. During the debate in the Lords on Tuesday 4 October, a large number of amendments were accepted. Some important changes have been made in relation to the Green Deal.
The most significant change has been that the non-domestic aspect of the Green Deal will now come into force no later than the 1 April 2018, rather than the original date of 1 April 2015.
The impact on local authorities will depend on their current and planned position. In properties that the authority rents from private landlords, those looking to curtail energy use will have to wait longer before they have the legal authority to demand efficiency changes. Local authorities will also have to wait longer before they have the authority to force private landlords operating within their jurisdiction to make adjustments. On the other hand, this delay may help those authorities that need more time to prepare to enforce the regulations.
A further change to the Green Deal was the addition of a requirement for assessors to ‘act impartially’. It is worth noting that it does not require assessors to be impartial, only to act impartial. This allows providers to conduct assessments as long as they follow a code of practice. Exactly how this impartiality will be monitored and assessed will emerge when the regulations are developed.
In addition, the Secretary of State will now be required to report to Parliament on the contribution of Green Deal policy and the energy company obligation to reduce carbon emissions in Great Britain.
Whilst there have been some useful changes to the Green Deal, the delay in its non-domestic aspect is another example of government uncertainty on climate policies, and could potentially be damaging for those who were counting on Green Deal finance.