Nicola Sturgeon has been challenged to explain who will pay the eye-watering bill for retrofitting one million homes in Scotland under her government’s ambitious Net Zero plans.
The First Minister admitted today the number of buildings that require significant work to meet strict environmental standards meant it was “one of the most significant and difficult challenges we face”.
Under Scottish Government plans, more than one million homes and an estimated 50,000 non-domestic buildings should be using low and zero emissions heating systems by 2030.
All buildings in Scotland are slated to be “warmer, more efficient and reach zero emissions” by 2045.
But one estimate puts the nationwide cost of such work at least £33 billion.
The Record revealed last year how the cost of retrofitting 450,000 properties in the Greater Glasgow area would cost at least £9 billion.
And local authorities previously told MSPs in January they simply do not have the cash to carry out the work themselves.
The First Minister today appeared in front of Holyrood’s conveners’ group to answer questions on the Net Zero target and Scotland’s response to COP26.
Dean Lockhart, convener of the Net Zero committee, asked: “It’s estimated the retrofitting and decarbonisation of buildings by 2030 will cost more than £33 billion.
“How will this be funded? Because local authorities have told the Net Zero committee that they don’t have the funds as they are facing a budget cut of more than £250 million this year alone.”
The First Minister responded: “Local authorities are not facing a cut this year – budgets are increasing and the total local government settlement has increased, but we will put that to one side.”
On retrofitting homes, she continued: “This is a massive obligation and it is central to meeting our overall Net Zero targets.
“Public money will be a key part of how we fund that and we have already made commitments to funding for the duration of this parliament.
“It’s one of the key issues in our spending review considerations right now and it will be issues for future parliaments as we go towards the 2030 milestone.
“But we will also have to work to leverage in private sector investment and that is also a key focus.
“And our efforts have to minimize the financial burden on individuals.”
Lockhart said the sheer effort required to retrofit more than one million buildings across Scotland meant work would have to start “now, effectively.”
He said he was not convinced the Scottish Government was undertaking enough work to raise the necessary private investment.
Sturgeon replied: “These plans are well underway in the Scottish Government. We’ve made significant commitments to public funding over this parliament.”
She added: “I think there is a very interesting and technical debate we could have on the phasing on this that will be needed between now and 2030.
“I’m not telling anybody anything they don’t know – but this is one of the most significant and difficult challenges we face.
“Not meeting it is not an option.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.