Scottish Parliament's eco-extremists need to realise their plans for net-zero heating boilers don't stack up – John McLellan

Our heating engineer Stuart will have choked on his cornflakes at news the Scottish Government intends to phase out new fossil boilers from 2025.

Replacing gas central heating may take longer than some expect (Picture: Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images)
Replacing gas central heating may take longer than some expect (Picture: Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images)

Not fake news; the Scottish Government’s official response to the Heat Pump Sector Deal Expert Advisory Group last week was clear: “We will legislate to phase out the need to install new or replacement fossil fuel boilers from 2025.” It’s not bye-bye Worcester Bosch, because the big boiler manufacturers already have compliant products in the emerging markets, but what are the chances of it happening?

For a start, there is a caveat that legislation relies on “technological developments and decisions by the UK Government”, which sounds like the ground source already being found to blame Westminster when the impracticality of a sudden switch becomes apparent.

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After further consultation, primary legislation is expected in early 2024, and given the determination with which the Greens are apparently calling the shots as the Gender Recognition Reform Bill is rammed through the Scottish Parliament, nobody should think for a minute that trifles like unfeasibility will prevent new laws coming into force.

It will be left to housebuilders and heating engineers to make it work, with the usual tosh from climate extremists masquerading as legislators about how they can’t afford not to make it work because the planet is dying. Presumably it will fall to council building inspectors, already under the cosh, to police the system by withholding completion certificates from non-compliant properties, and all within three years.

In fact, everyone is expected to have scrapped their gas boilers by 2045, but in Edinburgh, where 56 per cent of all emissions come from domestic properties, what passes for a plan is to move even quicker because City Chambers virtue-signallers decided that 2045 was too late and 2030 was the deadline for net-zero carbon to prevent the Earth becoming a smouldering cinder.

They have been recognised by something called the Carbon Disclosure Project for “taking bold leadership on environmental action and transparency”. Edinburgh Council and transparency don’t usually appear in the same sentence unless separated by “lack of”, yet a report to today’s policy and sustainability committee says “the pace of climate action must significantly accelerate” if the target is to be hit. In plain English, this means there's no chance because the report gives no idea how it might be achieved.

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As I might not make it to 2045, why should I worry? Oh yes, my children and any grandchildren apparently frying like tempura prawns if I don’t, so what am I waiting for? What indeed, because those nice people at ScottishPower say we might be able to get at £11,000 system for just £6,000, because those even more generous people at the Scottish Government might cough up the rest.

According to the Eco Experts advice website, it saves £335 a year and cuts emissions by 44 per cent so, they say, “you don't have to pay any extra to follow your green principles”. How affordably virtuous.

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Except ScottishPower’s small print reveals the estimate is for a seven-radiator system, the bare minimum for a three-bed family home, so a significant number of people, including us, will face a much bigger outlay. Happily, the boiler Stuart fitted is hydrogen compatible, so all we need is new gas. And less hot air.