At a recent council meeting to discuss how to maximise energy efficiency in City of York Council’s existing social housing, Labour argued for the greenest, lowest carbon option, but were stymied by the ruling Liberal Democrats and Green Party coalition, with Councillor Denise Craghill, the Executive Member for Housing and a Green Party councillor voting against the ‘greenest’ option.
Labour’s preferred option would cost the least amount of money, result in the biggest energy bill savings for residents, and lead to the biggest reduction in carbon output. Labour’s spokesperson for housing, Councillor Michael Pavlovic, spoke at the meeting in favour of this option.
“I was, and still am, staggered at the decision the Greens and ruling administration have taken,” he said. ” I thought Labour, the Greens and Lib Dems were all in agreement on the zero carbon 2030 target for York, but this suggests exactly the opposite. York will struggle to achieve that by 2050 if ruling councillors keep taking decisions like this.
“Instead of saving 66 tonnes of carbon annually, the Greens have opted for 48, and instead of benefiting 60 properties, they’ve gone for 38. And all at a cost of over £1m instead of £900,000”.
The works are set to take place on a number of properties that currently fall below the nationally recognised EPC energy efficiency rating level C. The scheme will now benefit 30 properties to reach level EPC C, while 8 will be subject to a more costly ‘EnerPHit’ treatment – retrofitting measures on existing properties that seek to get close to, but not emulate, the most efficient ‘passivhaus’ standard.
The comparative cost is £15,000 to achieve an EPC C rating and £68,000 per property for EnerPHit work. The meeting documentation makes it clear that the EnerPHit certification is hard to achieve and may not be possible in some of these properties.
Labour’s preferred option involved bringing 60 houses up to EPC C level at a cost of £15,000 per house. This would result in savings of 1.1 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually per property, and an energy bill saving of around £260 on average per year for each household. As such, Coun. Pavlovic explained, the decision by the Greens and Lib-Dems would result in 22 households missing out on measures required to bring their homes to a reasonable level of energy efficiency.
“Many people living in council housing don’t need the stress of a poorly insulated, sometimes damp property,” he added. “They are often the last people who need the added cost of more energy just to keep their homes warm and dry.
“So I’m quite shocked by this decision, and the impact it will have on those households. It’s a situation where the council could have done more for families and at less cost, and chose not to. Even after attending the meeting to make Labour’s points on this matter, I’m still in the dark as to why. I can only conclude that the Greens are chasing some sort of national profile and recognition in the pursuit of ideology over people”.