By DARA BUTTERFIELD
In a joint letter to Economy Secretary Keith Brown more than 20 business men and women have urged clear direction for the industry claiming it could create up to 9,000 jobs across Scotland.
The letter urged taking a “long-term, infrastructure approach to tackling poor housing as a cause of fuel poverty” by investment in a “growing industry”.
The writers said: “Winter has closed in and we are reminded how important it is that we all have affordable, sustainable ways of keeping our homes warm.
“Now is the time for the Scottish Government to be ambitious about ensuring that everyone in Scotland can do that.
“More than half of Scotland’s energy usage currently comes from demand for heating but so far we are only generating around 5% of that from renewable sources. Setting an ambition for the scale of this market would go a long way to driving industry investment, growth and innovation, just as the Scottish Government’s renewable electricity targets have done.”
This letter was written with the backing of the Existing Homes Alliance which said in a budget submission to ministers: “Housing is an area where Scotland has made relatively little progress in reducing emissions.
“Once adjustments for temperature are made, emissions have fallen by less than 0.8% per year in the residential sector since the Climate Change Act was introduced in 2009.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government responded saying: “Scotland is a world leader in tackling climate change, with among the most ambitious statutory targets in the world.
“As of 2014, we’ve delivered a 45.8 per cent reduction from baseline levels, meeting our annual target for that year and exceeding the level of our 2020 target for a 42 per cent reduction, six years ahead of schedule.
“However, we have to achieve more and have already committed to establishing a new and more testing target for 2020 of reducing actual Scottish emissions by at least 50 per cent.
“Last year, in response to calls from energy experts, environmental NGOs and the Committee on Climate Change, ministers designated energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority.
“As set out in the Programme for Government, our primary response will be the development of Scotland’s Energy Efficiency programme (SEEP).
“Building on programmes and pilots already in place, SEEP will be a single programme for public, commercial and domestic properties and take an integrated approach to energy efficiency measures and decarbonised heat provision.
“SEEP will sit at the heart of the new energy strategy which will be consulted on in the new year.”
The Existing Homes Alliance added: “It is estimated that such a programme could create 8000 to 9000 jobs per year, spread around Scotland unlike other infrastructure projects and with a large proportion of them with small- and medium-sized businesses.”