Documents considered by the Committee on 9 May 2018 Contents

9Energy Performance of Buildings

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny; further information requested

Document details

Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings.

Legal base

Article 194(2) TFEU; Ordinary legislative procedure; QMV

Department

Housing, Communities and Local Government

Document Number

(38339), 15108/16 + ADDs 1–5, COM(16) 765

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

9.1The building sector is the largest single energy consumer in Europe, absorbing 40% of final energy. About 75% of buildings are energy inefficient according to the European Commission, yet only around 1% of the building stock is renovated each year.

9.2In order to accelerate the cost-effective renovation of the existing building stock, the Commission proposed in December 2016 to update the existing Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) by:

9.3Since the Committee last considered the proposal, on 22 November 2017, the Government has written twice. In its most recent letter, the Minister of State for Housing and Planning (Dominic Raab) explains that agreement has been reached between the EU institutions. While the agreement largely reflects the Council General Approach—supported by the UK—there have been some changes to accommodate the European Parliament. These include a requirement that, where technically and economically feasible, non-domestic buildings with large heating or air conditioning systems should have automation and control systems68 by 2025.

9.4The agreement also includes a 20-month transposition deadline which—assuming the text is adopted as expected in Council—would fall in early 2020 and would thus need to be applied in the UK during the post-Brexit withdrawal period. This was a change from the 24 months agreed by the Council.

9.5The Government is concerned that the new requirement to have automation and control systems non-domestic buildings with large heating or air conditioning systems is neither practical nor proportionate. For that reason, the UK will abstain when the proposal comes to a final vote. The Minister requests that the Committee releases the document from scrutiny in advance of that vote, which could be as soon as 14 May.

9.6In his earlier letter—of 12 December 2017—the then Minister (Alok Sharma) apologised for the failure to respond more promptly to the previous Committee’s report of 25 January 2017, a failure which resulted in a scrutiny override. He explained that this was due to an administrative oversight.

9.7We note the outcome of negotiations and that the agreement struck between Member States at the June 2017 Energy Council remains largely in place, with some concessions made to the European Parliament. The concession relating to automation and control systems in non-domestic buildings with large heating or air conditioning systems is not, we understand, acceptable to the UK despite its application being subject to economic and technical feasibility. The UK therefore proposes to abstain.

9.8We note that a 20-month transposition deadline has been agreed, rather than the 24 months proposed by the Council, and that this will fall within the post-Brexit implementation period. The Directive will therefore need to be transposed into UK legislation. That said, the particular clause of concern to the UK will not come into effect until 2025 and so—subject to the terms of the future EU-UK agreement—could be amended post-transition.

9.9We note the Government’s apology for the failure to respond more promptly to the previous Committee’s report of 25 January 2017, a failure which led to a scrutiny override. Administrative oversight should not have such implications, but we do not take further issue with this matter given that the detail provided by the Department has otherwise been helpful.

9.10We are content to release the proposal from scrutiny and would request the following information before closing correspondence:

Full details of the documents

Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings: (38339), 15108/16 + ADDs 1–5, COM(16) 765.

Background

9.11Details of the proposal—and of the other elements of the Clean Energy Package—were set out in our Report of 25 January 2017.69 At that meeting, the previous Committee noted that the Government had concerns about the proposal and requested further details of the Government’s analysis once available.

9.12The Government did not write again until shortly before the June 2017 Energy Council. At that stage, the Government summarised progress, noting that agreement was likely at the Council and that the compromise proposals were more proportionate than the original proposals. Particular attention was drawn to the changes negotiated on electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Details of the changes were set out in our Report of 22 November 2017.70

9.13At our meeting of 22 November 2017, we noted that the Government had overridden scrutiny and could have written to the previous Committee before Council and ought certainly to have responded to the previous Committee’s Report of 31 January 2017 at an earlier stage. We sought an explanation as to why the Government did not communicate with our predecessors at an earlier stage.

9.14Regarding Brexit, we noted that the transposition deadline would be likely to fall within the post-Brexit implementation period and sought confirmation that the Government would expect to transpose the measure into UK law.

9.15On electric vehicle charging, we noted the Government’s satisfaction with the changes negotiated and asked the Government to set out its position on how new and renovated building stock could contribute to the low carbon transport shift.

Ministerial letter of 12 December 2017

9.16The Minister (Alok Sharma) apologises for the delay in responding to the previous Committee first report in the following terms:

“I am very sorry for the delay in responding to the Committee’s first report in January 2017. Regrettably, due to an administrative oversight we did not see the report until late March. The response was further delayed by the Easter recess and then the dissolution of Parliament, though I acknowledge the Committee was meeting up until 25 April.”

9.17On transposition of the Directive during a post-Brexit implementation period, the Minister recalls the Prime Minister’s statement in her Florence speech on 22 September 2017 that the UK would honour its commitments made during the period of its membership. The exact terms of an implementation period are, he says, subject to agreement and Government will set out more detail following negotiations.

9.18Regarding how new and renovated building stock can contribute to the low carbon transport shift, the Minister says:

“The Government’s recently published Industrial Strategy recognises that building stock can contribute to the low carbon transition and plays an important role in the shift to electric vehicles. The Strategy commits to updating the Building Regulations to mandate that all new residential developments must contain the enabling cabling for charge-points in these homes. Any future changes to the Building Regulations will need to take account of the independent review of Building Regulations and fire safety led by Dame Judith Hackitt. The review is due to produce its final report in spring 2018.”

Ministerial letter of 24 April 2018

9.19The Minister (Dominic Raab) explains that, following the conclusion of trilogue discussions, the Bulgarian Presidency presented a text based on political agreement with the European Parliament to a meeting of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) on 31 January. The European Parliament formally voted on the final text in plenary on 17 April.

9.20On the content of the agreement, the Minister comments in the following terms:

“Most of the changes in the text do not deviate significantly from the general approach text and are broadly in line with our agreed negotiating position—to ensure that the proposals are proportionate, practical, and cost effective and in line with UK policy. However, we have a concern with the introduction of a requirement for non-domestic buildings with large heating or air conditioning systems to have automation and control systems by 2025. This would be required irrespective of whether or not the building owner is undertaking any work to the building. While the requirement is caveated so that a building owner would not need to install such a system in place unless it is economically and technically feasible, we consider this requirement is not practical or proportionate.

“The trilogue agreement also includes a requirement for electric vehicle charging infrastructure for existing non-residential buildings with more than 20 parking spaces by 2025. However, this is more in line with UK policy to improve electric vehicle charging infrastructure and it will be up to Member States to set such requirements according to their national needs.”

9.21The UK argued that there should be further trilogue negotiations, but the majority of Member States agreed that the text should go forward for adoption. The text will now be put forward for Council adoption as an ‘A’ Point (i.e. without further discussion). The earliest the Council will consider the EPBD will be 14 May.

9.22The Minister concludes:

“The UK intends to register an abstention at the Council meeting to indicate that we do not support all the changes to the EPBD. I hope this update allows the Committee to complete its scrutiny of this proposal.”

Previous Committee Reports

Second Report HC xx-ii (2017–19), chapter 8 (22 November 2017); Twenty-ninth Report HC 71–xxvii (2016–17), chapter 1 (25 January 2017).


68 A system comprising all products, software and engineering services that can support energy-efficient, economical and safe operation of technical building systems through automatic controls and by facilitating the manual management of those technical building systems.

69 Twenty-ninth Report HC 71–xxvii (2016–17), chapter 1 (25 January 2017).

70 Second Report HC 301–ii (2017–19) chapter 8 (22 November 2017).




Published: 15 May 2018