Greg Barker, the Climate Change Minister, has defended the Government’s flagship green policy: the Green Deal. In recent weeks, the policy has come under mounting criticism from interested parties, with the consultation period set to draw to a close today. 

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has come under fire as proposed changes in the system of providing insulation grants to householders could lead to a 90 percent drop in insulation figures, according to Government’s own figures. This is thought to be because at present energy companies absorb almost 100 percent of the cost of loft insulation while under the Green Deal, homeowners will have to pay for installation.

In an interview with Channel 4 News, Barker set out to defend the Green Deal.

When asked why the public would benefit from the proposed move under the Green Deal, Barker said: “There’s going to be things available to them under the Green Deal as well, that’ll be real home improvements. For example, potentially new windows, a new front door, solid wall insulation that will put a new face on your home, really update it and make it look smart. Potentially new heating systems, new lighting systems, maybe LED lights giving you fantastic new options for lighting your home.”

David Kennedy, Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, responded to Barker’s claim, stating: “It’s a real problem because we need emissions reductions from energy reductions from home improvement to meet our legally binding carbon budgets, and it’s a problem because energy bills are high at the moment. Loft and cavity wall insulation offers the opportunity to reduce those bills, but if we don’t do loft and cavity walls then we won’t reduce those bills.”

The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) has expressed concerns over omissions and inconsistencies in DECC’s consultation document over the Green Deal. UKERC raises serious concerns that the logic behind some decisions has not been sufficiently well covered, and that key issues – such as how to prevent the ‘big six’ energy companies from dominating the market, or overcome the barriers preventing local authorities from engaging in local partnerships – have not been addressed.

UKERC are also urging DECC to provide greater clarification as to how the Green Deal will fit with, as well as complement, other initiatives being proposed such as the Renewable Heat Incentive and feed-in tariffs.

SmartestEnergy, a purchaser and supplier of independently generated electricity, has also raised concerns over the independence of assessors charged with carrying out energy efficiency reports on properties under the scheme.

Colin Prestwich, SmartestEnergy’s Head of Regulations, said: “According to Government’s consultation document, some potential Green Deal providers are already indicating they are likely to offer assessments with no upfront cost as a way to engage with consumers.”

Prestwich continued: “We are very concerned that providers will not be able to resist the opportunity for cross-selling or marketing of other products. That would disadvantage smaller energy suppliers who are less likely to be involved in the Green Deal scheme.”

Dr. Nick Eyre of UKERC summarised: “We support the underlying idea behind the Green Deal – it’s a good idea to bring new sources of finance into low energy refurbishment of buildings and pay for the costs from reduced energy bills. But the detail of the proposals is very worrying – it will reduce rates of insulation and have a detrimental impact on the ability of the UK to meet its carbon targets. Subsidising energy supply, but not energy efficiency improvement makes no sense.”