Agenda item

Energy Efficiency Report OSC22-059

For the Committee to receive the report on Energy Efficiency.


Reporting Person: Tracey Haskins


Tracey Haskins, Green Infrastructure Manager, presented an overview of the Energy Efficiency Report that had been requested by Members.  Other contributors were available to answer Members queries: Jade Bowes, Daniel Ashe, Adam Browne and Sam Pepper.

The UK Government had announced new policy subsequent to the publication of the report.  The Energy Price cap had been extended beyond April 2023 and increased to £3,000.  There were a number of means-tested financial aids announced in addition.

As part of the report, Officers contacted private developers, architects and planning agents to seek their input.  Members were appreciative that EcoWorld London, the developer of a project on Goldsworth Road, had responded but were disappointed that other developers of sites in the Borough had not.  There was concern that no response suggested developers were not prioritising energy efficiency in their builds.

The Committee was interested in using the commitment that the Council had to energy efficient construction as a means of friendly competition with private developers to spur them into making their projects more energy efficient.

Adam Browne, Housing Assets Manager, confirmed that residential rental properties were required to have a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Rating of E.  The priority was to ensure that all Council Stock was at least an EPC Rating of E.  The Council had recently employed a new Head of Housing Assets, Craig Humphrey and efforts had begun on developing a strategy to raise properties to EPC rating C, in line with the Government’s proposed minimum C rating by 2030  Of the 2% that were below E rating, the majority were due to non-engagement by tenants. A number of strategies had been considered, including formal action against tenants, however that had been considered excessive.  The Council had recently had success by educating residents in non-compliant Council Stock properties that improvements would reduce their utility costs and, without the improvements, their properties would be ineligible for future grants, preventing possible future improvements to the properties.

Members were surprised that the Council had not applied for funds from the most recent Decarbonisation Housing Fund.  Officers confirmed that the Council lacked the software and resource required to pull together the large amount of data required for the bid.  Additionally, the most recent round of funding required Local Authorities to match the amount of funding provided by the Decarbonisation fund and that a minimum of 100 properties were improved.  The Council had the means to match the funding for ten properties and there had been a countywide attempt to form a consortium with neighbouring authorities for the remaining 90.  However, the total number of properties that could be joined together was insufficient.

The Committee discussed fuel-poverty and enquired how many of the Council’s tenants were possibly in fuel-poverty and if this was an appropriate metric of who to target with help.  Members also enquired what projections there were that estimated how many would be in fuel poverty in the coming months.  Officers undertook to supply the information outside of the meeting.

Sam Pepper, Environmental Programme Manager for ThamesWey Group, confirmed that there had been national funding to provide insulation in homes, but there had not been the same for installation of LED bulbs.  ThamesWey had run the Woking Energy Champions Project and through that had financed the replacement of bulbs from a Legacy Fund provided by Action Surrey.

Sam Pepper confirmed that ThamesWey Group had committed to applying ISO 14001 to housing and development from next year onwards.  It was already applied to energy assets.

Members enquired what support was provided to park homes in aiding them to access the Energy Support Grant.  Previous projects had provided help to park homes, but there were some limitations due to fire safety where homes were in proximity with each other.  Additionally, many park homes were on sites with management companies that were not always receptive to working with the Council or ThamesWey.  However, ThamesWey was bidding for funding specifically aimed at properties that were off grid for gas, which could benefit some park homes sites.  Officers undertook to provide more information outside of the meeting.

The Committee enquired what actions could be used to encourage developers to focus on energy efficiency through national and local planning policy.  Officers confirmed that energy efficiency matters were being considered as part of  the upcoming update of the Climate Change Strategy Supplementary Planning Document.

Members commented that proposals could be made by Councillors to help residential areas using Community Infrastructure Levy funding.

National Future Homes Standard references the ‘fabric first approach’, by maximising the performance of the parts and materials that make up the building’s fabric itself, before considering the use of mechanical or electrical building services systems.  Although spending more on each property would increase efficiency there were diminishing returns that made it not feasible to construct with energy efficiency in mind beyond a certain point.

Officers confirmed that they actively sought external funding for energy efficiency improvements in the Borough but there had been no more found to date.

The Council had recently run a project to identify privately rented properties in the Borough that were below EPC rating E.  It had resulted in enforcement action being taken on the owners of several properties.  Officers confirmed that identified properties would continue to be followed up.

The Chairman noted the Recommendations which highlighted some of the work that the Council was taking as part of its actions of Climate Change.



(i)            the outcomes of these enquiries, as set out in the report be noted;

(ii)           the Council prepares for the further planned changes of the National Future Homes Standards, to ensure that new homes and extensions meet the highest possible energy efficiency standards;

(iii)          welcomes the forthcoming revised Climate Change Strategy and Climate Change Supplementary Planning Document in order to secure the latest energy efficiency best practice in development;

(iv)          supports the Council continuing to prepare bids for external funding opportunities that directly relate to energy efficiency improvements; and

(v)           recommends that Planning Development Management develops standard conditions in line with Building Regulations to secure energy efficiency outcomes.

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