New buildings in Scotland should immediately be required to use low or no-carbon heating, the Liberal Democrats have said.
Laying out “radical” proposals to counter the recent heat in buildings strategy put forward by the Scottish Government, party leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said decarbonising heat would “make or break our climate emergency commitments”.
The Government strategy, outlined by zero-carbon buildings minister Patrick Harvie, would require new-builds to use “zero direct emissions heating” from 2024, but Mr Cole-Hamilton’s plans would make the change immediate.
He also urged the Government to make insulation a priority, while bringing in an up-front voucher scheme for homeowners to install low-carbon heating and more ambitious targets for the replacement of gas boilers.
“Gas boilers will be keeping the majority of us warm this winter, and there’s no disputing the fact that that needs to change,” he said.
“But the Scottish Government have failed to provide good answers for people who ask about the alternatives. Costs and bureaucracy create barriers that need to be torn down.
“Every new-build installed without low-emission technology is a problem that needs to be fixed within the next 10 years.
“The SNP/Green Government don’t plan to call a halt for years, but we shouldn’t be adding to the problem.
“We need to up the ante on insulation to help those facing fuel poverty now, with funding increased until poor energy efficiency is no longer a driver.
“That helps bills, helps reduce emissions and makes homes net-zero ready, because technologies like heat pumps need a good level of insulation to work.
“The climate crisis and the fuel crisis are a reality now. We can’t wait years for radical action.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Our Heat in Buildings Strategy sets out the bold steps we are taking to reduce emissions from our homes and buildings in a way that leaves no one behind. It is vital that action to decarbonise heat does not have a detrimental impact on rates of fuel poverty and instead serves to tackle social inequalities.
“From 2024, regulations will require new homes to use zero direct emissions heating and have high levels of fabric energy efficiency. This is a year earlier than planned across the rest of the UK, but we also need to increase the supply and cut the price of heat pumps.
“Requiring the immediate use of low or no carbon heating wouldn’t increase the number of heat pumps available, but would just send prices through the roof.
“The Heat in Buildings Strategy goes well beyond new buildings. By 2033 we want to see all homes meeting at least an EPC band C standard where feasible and cost effective.
“This will help ensure energy costs in future are affordable and that our actions continue to remove poor energy efficiency as a driver of fuel poverty.”