SNP-Green coalition's pursuit of net-zero carbon emissions is a threat to the value of your home – John McLellan

If, like me, you’ve not quite got round to sorting out those interlinked smoke and heat alarms we’re all supposed to have fitted by the start of last week, you’re probably not that worried.

Bringing some houses up to required insulation standards may be difficult and expensive (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Bringing some houses up to required insulation standards may be difficult and expensive (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

After all, that nice Shona Robison, the SNP’s Housing Secretary, says there will be no penalties, and as we don’t smoke or have a chip pan what are the chances of the house burning down?

But what if Ms Robison had announced that without the properly fitted alarms you wouldn’t be able to sell or rent? There would be outrage, but those who could afford it would trouser up the £300-400 to get the work done to preserve their home’s value.

But what if householders or landlords were told their homes could not be sold or rented without over £50,000 of work? Or if the property in question could never meet the new standard set by the SNP and Greens and was effectively valueless?

There would be justified fury from thousands who would be compelled to spend a large chunk of their savings to bring their homes up to scratch or, worse, see the value of their homes and their future security wiped out.

Yet that is precisely what the Scottish government’s SNP-Green coalition is proposing in its pursuit of carbon net-zero. Under their deal, they have agreed it should be compulsory for all properties to have a minimum energy performance certificate rating of C by 2033, but for thousands of pre-war properties, it’s simply an impossibility.

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Some 120,000 Edinburgh homes could be affected; solid walls which can’t be insulated, places in which heat pumps are inefficient and electric heating burns more energy than gas, and where stairwells which act like chimneys. Compulsory double or triple glazing can come in at £3,000 per window.

With a casual disregard of the consequences of blighting a huge chunk of the Scottish property market, a Scottish government spokesman re-emphasised the pledge at the weekend: “The strategy… will help to reduce emissions, support the performance of zero-emission heating systems, and ensure that we continue to remove poor energy efficiency as a driver of fuel poverty.”

Tackling fuel poverty by making thousands of homes unsellable or, at best, forcing people to spend tens of thousands of pounds on home improvements seems a bizarre way to beat poverty, fuel or otherwise.

But this is supposedly Scotland being progressive, leading the way on climate change and setting an example to China, India, and Russia and their planet-heating ways. Ordinary citizens are therefore being asked to bear the cost of SNP-Green posturing which will make no meaningful difference to global temperatures.

No doubt the city council’s class warriors will be enthusiastic, in the mistaken belief those most affected aren’t their supporters and the destruction of property values is a good thing: “smashing the rich” with environmental justification.

But it could blight the whole of old Leith as well as the New Town. The council can’t even afford to bring up its housing stock to current standards and would have no way of replacing the hundreds of properties forced out the rental market.

The clue should be in ‘net’ of reaching net-zero, with investment in carbon capture to deal with emissions without crushing the property market. But this policy isn’t about net-zero, but Year Zero.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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