19 October 2020

A graphic of a house, with energy efficiency ratings alongside it from A (very efficient) to G (very inefficient)

As part of its drive to be carbon neutral by 2050, South Hams District Council is recommending committing over £500,000 to improve the energy efficiency of households within the District.

A successful Council bid for The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) funds, through the Green Homes Grant Scheme, has secured over £330,000 to help improve older homes' energy efficiency. This is part of a plan to save households money and to cut carbon emissions.

The Council is now proposing to commit a further £200,000. This will be specifically targeted at low-income families living in fuel poverty and to underline its commitment to do it all can to tackle the global climate change and biodiversity challenges.

A Green Homes report going to the Executive Committee, on Thursday 22 October, recommends that the majority of the Council's reserves are kept under review during the uncertainty around the pandemic. However, it is prudent to release £20k from the Climate Change and Biodiversity Earmark Reserve. This is to support delivery of these schemes and help some of the most vulnerable in our community.

In line with the Council's emerging Climate Change and Biodiversity Strategy, the extra funding, if agreed, will also help to reduce carbon emissions from existing housing, which remain a major source of CO2 emissions in the District.

The Green Homes Grant project will focus on the installation of external wall insulation and air source heat pumps for eligible households.

This scheme would mean properties, which are not on the mains gas supply and rely on alternative, less efficient sources of heating, such as oil and solid fuel, would benefit from these improvements early next year.

Whilst the additional funding, if given the green light, will help secure further reductions in fuel poverty and carbon emissions through a range of different interventions and by levering in additional funds.

South Hams District Council's Leader, Cllr Judy Pearce, said: "I'm delighted that we have been able to secure crucial funds to improve energy efficiency in homes. This means we can support some of our most vulnerable households while underlining our commitment to the Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency.

"With recent information forthcoming from Government on local authorities' funding for the coming year, we are now able to go the extra mile by recommending further funding from our reserves. This will allow us to deliver this vital project and to provide extra officer time in looking at further ways to help carbon reduction.

"This is an important step in reducing the District's carbon footprint in homes which don't currently benefit from efficient insulation or use inefficient methods of heating."  

A member of South Hams District Council's Climate Change and Biodiversity Working Group, and Leader of the Council's Green Party, Cllr Jacqi Hodgson, added: "It is so very important that we tackle this particular carbon issue with these very welcome new funds that have become available to us. It is very timely as the winter chill sets in and we provide a low carbon alternative to turning up carbon heavy thermostats.

"Insulating homes and providing more efficient, renewable sources of heating can result in energy savings of between 10 - 30%. The installation of air source heat pumps and external wall and roof insulation will go a long way towards this. I'm very positive that additional resource has been allocated to support this incredibly important work."

To find out more about the Council's commitment to the Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency, visit: www.climatechange.southhams.gov.uk/achievements-and-activity

To find out more about the Green Homes Project and to see if you are eligible, email: eco@swdevon.gov.uk