Confidence over Brexit Negotiations

CONFIDENCE ON BREXIT NEGOTIATIONS

24 March 2017

With Britain about to start negotiating its exit from the European Union, accreditation bodies and some assessors’ leaders are optimistic about the outcome for the energy assessment industry.

Both Stroma and Elmhurst were confident about the future prospects for the energy assessment industry, and Quidos MD Philip Salaman said firmly: “I am certainly not worried about Brexit impacting our businesses.”

ABs were confident that EPCs are here to stay, and assessors’ leader Glen Neville was also optimistic, but Ian Sturt was concerned about the effect that uncertainty would have on the property industry.

It has taken eight months for Theresa May’s government to reach the point of giving notice to the European Union of our intention to leave, although they were slowed down by court proceedings and the resultant need to pass an Act approved by both houses of Parliament.

Notice to leave is now due to be given by letter on Monday, to take effect on Wednesday, 29 March, under Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon which became law in December 2009 – though no state has used the provision before.

Negotiations are expected to start soon afterwards, but it is likely to be at least 18 months before we know how good a deal we can expect from the other EU members, and no doubt we are in for an extended period of media ‘shock horror’ revelations in the meantime, but the industry generally plans to keep calm and carry on.

Philip Salaman (left), Managing Director of Quidos, said: “In my opinion Brexit will have limited impact on EPBD regulations. Ultimately these regulations cost the public purse very little, as they are largely self regulated, and yet it provides the government with an accurate picture of the property stock in the UK. The EPC rating is built into property vocabulary now, so to remove this would serve no purpose.

“I suppose the AirCon reports are most at risk, as the take up has been so woeful, but again what does the government gain in removing them from the requirements? It is far easier to transpose current regulations than to rewrite new ones.

“At the end of the day the UK does have environmental obligations, and it would be very unwise to ignore methods of a) measuring the property stock, and b) proving that they are trying to do something about the carbon levels.  I am certainly not worried about Brexit impacting our businesses.”

Andy Parkin (right), Technical Manager at Stroma Certification, said: “We are in regular dialogue with the Department of Communities and Local Government about the implications of Brexit, and will continue to be so during the forthcoming negotiations over the coming years.

“At present there have been no substantial negative ramifications of the decision to leave the EU. In fact it can be argued that the UK economy is performing strongly, with investment maintaining at a positive level.

“We will be reminding Government of the advantages of the EPC and the improvements that have been made on existing and new build housing stock. The welfare and sustained prosperity of our members is a key priority for the business, and we are optimistic that the UK will continue to set the benchmark for energy efficiency and carbon reduction best practice for the foreseeable future.”

Martyn Reed (below), Managing Director of Elmhurst Energy, was also optimistic, but had some concern about the uncertainty ahead.  He told us: “Anyone in business will know that there is nothing more difficult to  cope with than uncertainty.

“Whilst Elmhurst Energy believe that the EU have been good for energy efficiency, and our sector, the referendum decision was made, and it is now the responsibility of government to re-establish the  economic and political environment, so that businesses can make medium and long term decisions with confidence.

“Obviously EPCs emanated from an EU directive, and when BREXIT is complete that driver will be gone. Elmhurst is aware, and has inputted  into government’s post BREXIT plans and all the indications are that EPCs are here to stay.

“If anything, the UK legislation such as PRS / Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, which is built upon EPCs, will get landlords to take an active interest in energy efficiency and will, undoubtedly, drive up levels of compliance.

“It is also important to remember that the 5th Carbon Budget and the Paris Agreement are not EU commitments but relate to the United Nations – they will continue, BREXIT, or no BREXIT.

“I have no doubt that BREXIT will impact on EPCs but I am totally confident that energy assessment and energy certificates are here to stay. Whilst there is likely to be change at the edges, Elmhurst will be doing its part to ensure that it is change for the good.”

Ian Sturt (right) of the Alliance of Energy Assessor Organisations, was also concerned about uncertainty in the future, though he emphasised that he was speaking personally and not for the Alliance.

He told us: “Energy Assessors are reporting a drop off in work, mortgage lenders are reporting a drop off in mortgages, and article 50 is about to be triggered. Is there a link?

“Anyone who has got money saved or invested must be aware of the potential for the value of those savings to fall off a cliff as soon as the threat of Brexit becomes the reality of Brexit.  If that will actually happen nobody knows, but the possibility cannot be ignored.

“Whether or not you believe Brexit will be good in the long run, the next few months and years are impossible to forecast, other than that it is likely to be a rocky ride.

“I suspect there is an significant element of ‘battening down the hatches’ going on at the moment, and if the people with money are nervous, property transactions will drop.

“It also seems that ECO and RHI have dwindled, FiT is a shadow of its former self, Green Deal has essentially gone, and son of Green Deal is generating some interest but is not yet mature enough to be actually generating any work.”

Glen Neville (left), President of Midlands assessor organisation MEP, who also stressed he was speaking in a personal capacity, was cautiously optimistic about the future.

He said: “In the changing world within which we are living following the Brexit vote, we are finally moving away from the endless wrangling and spin over the result to a phase in which negotiators can begin to formulate the basis of our future.

“I am hopeful that we can emerge from this phase in due course with an agreement which will be good for our industry, and good for everyone in the UK.”