Government failure over energy efficiency rules for listed buildings is ‘abdication of responsibility’, says CLA

10 October 2017

With less than six months to go until a crucial deadline for meeting new energy efficiency standards, the CLA has slammed Ministers for their failure to confront the fundamentally flawed rules that make understanding compliance with energy efficiency regulations all but impossible for thousands of listed and other heritage buildings across the countryside. 

From April 2018 it will be illegal to let a property with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating lower than E to a new tenant, and to an existing tenant from April 2020. As the regulations will only apply to buildings which are legally required to have an EPC, understanding the Government’s intention in this area is critical.

Over the past three years the CLA has consistently asked Ministers to address the fundamental flaws in regulation, which ambiguously exempt listed buildings from needing an EPC while at the same time requires an EPC to demonstrate that the installation of recommended energy efficiency measures would unacceptably alter the character or appearance of the building.

Energy performance certificates, which were introduced by EU Directive in 2003, are widely seen as wholly inappropriate for assessing the true energy performance of a heritage building. The CLA has been clear that the correct position is for all listed buildings to be exempt from EPC requirements. Instead property owners should be encouraged to achieve energy efficiency through means that are more appropriate to the building type and construction.

After more than two years of delay, new guidance published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy simply advises owners of heritage property to make their own assessment of whether they require an EPC, or to seek advice from Trading Standards.

CLA President Ross Murray said: “There are hundreds of thousands of concerned owners of listed buildings who face continuing ambiguity. Having promised guidance for more than a year, it has finally arrived and fails to give a clear message. This affects heritage in both town and country.

“The policy is fundamentally flawed due to an error made when the Government transposed the Energy Performance of Building Directive into UK law. Rather than admitting this and committing to doing something about it, the Government is essentially just passing the problem on to thousands of property owners.

“The result is endless confusion and potentially costly and unnecessary bills. Worse still, potential damage to good heritage buildings across the countryside as well as in towns and cities. This is a national issue which needs sorting.

“We have sought clarity on this issue week in week out for over a year. The failure of officials and ministers to confront the originally transposition error is an abdication of responsibility.”