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by Louise Wilson
28 November 2023
Scottish homebuyers may be forced to replace heating systems within two years of purchase


Scottish homebuyers may be forced to replace heating systems within two years of purchase

People who purchase a home before 2045 could be expected to replace gas heating systems in the property within two years of moving in under new Scottish Government proposals.

Hailing the heat transition as the “next big step” in meeting Scotland’s climate ambitions, zero carbon buildings minister Patrick Harvie confirmed plans to require those who purchase a property to comply with a prohibition on polluting heating.

The minister made a statement to parliament at the same time the government launched a public consultation on the proposals.

But the Scottish Tories raised concerns about costs to homeowners, dubbing the announcement a “ten-year time bomb”, while Scottish Labour said the plans are “in chaos”.

Under the plans, all buildings in Scotland are expected to be using clean heat by 2045, with a third of demand to be met via heat networks. A stricter deadline of 2038 for public buildings would be put in place.

In addition, private rented homes would need a meet a minimum energy standard by 2028, while owner-occupied homes would need to meet that standard by 2033.

Harvie said a new bill will be brought forward in 2025 for MSPs to approve legislation for the transition to clean heat, which he said would mean the first home or building owners would be required to act from 2028.

He added: “There is no route to meeting our legal duty to be a net-zero country by 2045 without making the heat transition. Making this transition can also liberate households and businesses from volatile fossil fuel prices.

“There will be no ‘one size fits all’ approach to what we’re proposing – we recognise that different types of buildings in different areas need different solutions – but today we are giving certainty to households to plan and clarity for businesses to invest, with a pathway which recognises the cost pressures that so many of us are currently facing.”

The consultation is currently seeking views on how long a grace period for those who purchase a property before 2045 would last, but suggests between 2-5 years.

The minister said the Scottish Government would continue to provide a “generous package of financial support”.

He also confirmed a delay to the 2025 target for phasing out new fossil fuel boilers in off-gas properties, with a single timeline to be brought in for both on- and off-gas areas from 2028.

Tory housing spokesperson Miles Briggs said the announcement did nothing to help homeowners who would be facing bills of thousands to replace heating systems. He said: “SNP and Green ministers have come to the chamber today with a timescale, but not a plan on how they will achieve what they have set out.”

Labour’s Sarah Boyack said it remained unclear as to how the heat transition would be paid for. She also called for clarity on improving energy efficiency, adding: “People don’t need warm words, they need warm homes and they need Scottish Government leadership.”

But the Climate Change Commitee has welcomed the announcement. Chief executive Chris Stark said: “These are bold proposals to decarbonise Scotland's buildings over the next two decades. They recognise the importance of a long-term plan for low-carbon heat, with a very welcome focus on upgrading properties at the point of sale.

“There is also greater clarity on the role low-carbon heat networks and tougher obligations on landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties. If adopted, these proposals could become a template for other parts of the UK.”

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