GMB: Susanna Reid grills Insulate Britain protester
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Lord Martin Callanan, a business and energy minister, blasted the environmental protestors for pushing consumers away from insulating their homes, rather than convincing them of their cause. Speaking to Express.co.uk, he described the climate demonstrators as “one of the most counterproductive campaigns in British political history”.
It comes as the Government has announced a raft of measures since the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last November, including schemes to fund the installation of heat pumps and other home improvements.
It has pledged that by 2050, “all our buildings will be energy efficient with low carbon heating”, with 2035 being the date by which new and replacement gas boilers will be prohibited from sale.
UK residents are able to access grants for free insulation up to £10,000 from the Government.
The Government is also looking to install 600,000 heat pumps a year in UK homes by 2028, offering incentives to those who switch out their old boiler.
However, heat pumps are not without controversy: consumers and constructors alike have said that installing them can be very costly – made more so by the need to refit other elements of a home’s plumbing to make it compatible.
Since last year, Insulate Britain has been involved in high-profile and disruptive protests, including blocking motorways.
In October, one demonstrator glued themselves to the roof of a DLR train at a busy London commuter station.
Insulate Britain says it wants the Government to insulate the UK’s homes “to save thousands of lives and prevent economic and social collapse”.
It claims it is “the levelling up agenda writ large”, but Lord Callanan, a former Brexit minister, said the Government’s energy policies are “all directed towards lower income households, directly funding home insulation works”.
Rather than helping the transition to a more energy-efficient housing stock, he accused them of “hindering” the move.
The minister said: “They’re asking for impossibilist solutions and they’re alienating the public, and we need to take the public with us.
“I think it’s one of the most counterproductive campaigns in British political history. They’re giving insulation a bad name.”
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He added: “Insulation, home efficiency is a good thing; we’re doing it, we’re driving it up. They are standing in the way of further progress.
“We don’t need to be convinced of the importance of insulation – we’re doing it.”
Speaking at an energy efficiency summit in Sonderborg, Denmark, he commented: “How does it help, to disrupt people’s lives, to – as they did – stop electric tube trains in the Docklands Light Railway; to stop people getting to work; to stop ambulances getting to hospitals?
“How does that help to persuade the public of the rightness of your cause by just making a blood nuisance of yourself all the time?”
Meanwhile, Brian Motherway, the International Energy Agency’s efficiency chief, suggested more diplomatically that “it’s for different audiences.
“Some people have a negative reaction to that; some people have a positive reaction. They’re certainly causing debate – you can’t deny that.”
He added: “The conundrum of energy efficiency is: it kind of makes sense anyway, so why aren’t people doing it?
“Even if you don’t care about climate change, you could save money, you could lower your energy bills.
“But then if you did care about climate change, why aren’t you starting on the simplest and cheapest action?”
Dr Motherway said that such a quandary “sometimes manifests itself as frustration among campaigners”.
Insulate Britain was contacted for comment.
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