The Energys Group regulatory round up; what’s key in the world of environmental legislation?

Green regs will stay post Brexit

This March, welcome news has come that the UK will hold firm to it’s world-leading stance on sustainable regulation.

Business Green reports Theresa May has given the clearest indication yet of her intention to minimise post-Brexit disruption for the green economy, promising to maintain environmental standards and work as closely as possible with key EU energy and environment agencies post-Brexit.

May’s promises; the regulatory rundown

The Prime Minister made the green promises as part of a speech on the UK’s future economic partnership with the EU.

She did not specifically name any new binding commitments, but reiterated the government had no intention of rolling back environmental protections.

“In areas like workers’ rights or the environment, the EU should be confident that we will not engage in a race to the bottom in the standards and protections we set,” she said.

“There is no serious political constituency in the UK which would support this – quite the opposite.”

Indeed, she made a commitment to ensure the relevant UK regulatory standards remain at least as high as the EU’s.

And further, the Prime Minister confirmed the UK would seek associate membership or close cooperation with a host of European agencies, including the European Chemicals Agency which governs the sweeping REACH regulations.

Similarly, May hinted the UK would explore continued close cooperation with the EU’s energy union and Euratom agency.

She concluded: “The UK has among the highest environmental and animal welfare standards of any nation on earth.

“As we leave the EU we will uphold environmental standards and go further to protect our shared natural heritage. And I fully expect that our standards will remain at least as high as the EU’s.”

“The promises will come as welcome reading to the low carbon sector,” commented Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys.

“This assertion that no watering down of green law is coming, is exactly what low carbon needed. Now let’s get on with the day to day essentials of embedding and meeting the green targets and commitments we’ve already made.”

UK sticks to its green guns; what’s in the pipeline for 2018 green law?

Energy Performance Certificates: As of April 1, all commercial buildings within the scope of Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) must have a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E, or they will be illegal to rent out.

The April change is absolutely crucial to delivering better energy efficiency in UK buildings.

What’s happening with our air?

In February, the Government was slammed by the courts for failing to produce a plan to tackle the growing problem of air pollution.

The judgment will force ministers back to the drawing board in their efforts to clean up dirty urban air. The court heard that, 8 years after the UK was found to be in breach of legal limits on the pollutant, levels were still too high in 37 out of 43 zones across the country.

Ministers have been slow to get to grips with the problem, which has been caused in part by the rise in the number of diesel vehicles on the roads, and increasing urbanisation.

New law isn’t yet here on air. But we may have just seen the final limits breached that will make new regs inevitable.

News just in: Spring Statement

It’s been revealed Chancellor Philip Hammond’s March Spring Statement contains a long-awaited call for evidence on how to tackle single-use plastic waste.

In all likelihood, this will lead to eventual new tax law on single use plastic.

Further, green groups will be nurturing hopes the March Statement may kick off the consultations on energy efficiency that were trailed in last year’s Clean Growth Strategy, or provide more detail on how Ministers intend to fund aspects of the 25 Year Environment Plan.


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The Energys Group March 2018 horizon scan; top insights for futureproofing low carbon business

At Energys Group, we are constantly monitoring global work on energy efficiency. And we’d like to draw your attention to a change at EU level that many of us may have missed in the Christmas build up.

EU ups the ante on buildings energy efficiency standards

On December 19, while most of us were pondering what Santa might deliver, the EU delivered a different kind of present.

Reuters reports that the Union has created new rules on energy standards for all new public buildings, plus improvements for existing buildings, which account for considerable EU greenhouse gas emissions.

“The fight against climate change starts ‘at home’, given that over a third of [the] EU’s emissions [are] produced by buildings. By renovating and making them smart, we are catching several birds with one stone: energy bills, people’s health, and the environment,” Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said in a statement.

The new rules, which aim to boost energy performance across the public sector and encourage renovations aimed at creating more energy-efficient buildings, are most welcome.

But at home, we can’t say for sure whether the EU’s move will make differences in the UK as 2018 progresses.

The key is the Great Repeal Bill. The BBC explains that this critical plank of legislation has reached the committee stage in the House of Commons, which is where there will probably be many attempts by MPs to change its wording.

The idea is that all existing EU legislation will be copied across into domestic UK law, to ensure a smooth transition on the day after Brexit.

So, theoretically at least, now the EU has raised its standards on efficiency, there’s no reason why these new rules shouldn’t remain in place here after Brexit too.

This would be a real positive for energy efficiency in the UK public sector. We already have Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards delivering real change across rented properties. If we can embed EU-derived laws to raise the bar on new public buildings, and renovate existing schools and hospitals, we can massively improve the quality of our public services and increase our transition to low carbon.

At Energys, we hope these new EU standards make it into UK law as Brexit progresses.

What exactly will the new EU rules do?

The EU package creates a clear path towards low and zero emissions building stock by 2050, underpinned by national roadmaps to decarbonise buildings.

First, it encourages the use of information and communication technology (ICT) and smart technologies to ensure buildings operate efficiently, by introducing automation and control systems.

Additionally, it introduces a ‘smartness indicator’ which will measure buildings’ capacity to use new technologies and electronic systems to optimise operation and interact with the grid.

Given the Government’s determination to update and reinvent a smarter UK grid, we feel sure these new EU efficiency changes should make it into UK law. And because EU member states determine their own internal laws on top level standards like these, we could take the measures even further if we have the will.

Let’s be sure our sector as a whole continues to advocate, and ensure this EU efficiency reform package doesn’t get swept under the Brexit carpet.

The final word

January is generally a quiet time, as the sector gets back to work and looks forward to a year of promise. But this EU news, delivered quietly before Christmas, is a real reason to celebrate.

Let’s use the EU lead to push for a more radical, disruptive, energy efficient UK public sector as Brexit deadlines draw ever nearer.

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