Just after the closure of the consultation on the proposals for consequential improvements in the Department for Communities and Local Government in the Part L consultation, the press discovered the proposals – and went to town. The proposals – for improvements to energy efficiency to be required when house is extended or there were other notifiable alterations such as a new boiler or windows – were labelled a ‘conservatory tax’ or ‘tax on aspiration’, and minister appeared to be pitted against minister.
The articles mis-represented the ‘guidance’ level of spending of 10% as an obligatory level, and described the suggestion that the works could be covered by a Green Deal, as an obligation to take out a Green Deal. The papers also mistranslated ‘extension’ as ‘conservatory’, despite the fact that the great majority of conservatory purchases would be exempt.
The press then went on to find research showing that in some projects, that resembled the Green Deal in only some respects, energy savings from energy saving measures did not cost less than the repayments, and/or were not as great as had been modelled.
The media conjured these misunderstandings into a story that householders erecting a conservatory would be obliged to take out a Green Deal at 10% of the value of the works, which would leave them out of pocket – hence the “Conservatory Tax”.
Because of the some overblown reporting of possible Prime Ministerial misgivings about consequential improvements, and the muddling of the Green Deal and the consequential improvements, it even looked briefly as though the Green Deal itself was in question. Subsequent clarifications however have stated the Government’s continued commitment to the Green Deal – and all that the Government is saying about consequential improvements is “they are part of a consultation”. For a good account of this ‘storm in a teacup’ see http://markbrinkley.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/conservatory-tax-what-happens-next.html and http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2012/04/the-great-green-myth
There is however lingering concern that this furore has not helped promote the programme, and that if consequential improvements do fall, then the amount of Green Deal activity may be a lot lower than the would-be installers had been hoping.