Unreasonable net zero targets imposed by the Conservative Party have long hung over ordinary people like a sword of Damocles.
The deadlines have always been unhelpful and unattainable – but their imposition has nevertheless left households shrouded in uncertainty, unable to make simple and informed decisions about how best to invest in their homes.
For landlords, this ambivalence was far worse. Property investors had been told they had to spend up to £10,000 on each rental home to ensure they hit energy efficiency targets by as early as 2025 – or they would be banned from letting them out and even face fines and prison.
To make matters worse, the metric the Government had pinned its net zero homes strategy on was the ridiculously flawed Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
It became an open secret that no-one, including the Government, had any faith in these £35 scraps of paper. Think you’re doing the right thing in buying an expensive heat pump? Well that could cause your EPC rating to fall. None of it made any sense.
Thankfully in a major speech on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak gave homeowners a reprieve with landlords facing no such rules – for now at least. But we’re not safe yet.
Labour’s lead in the polls and an election looming still means homeowners do not know how net zero will hit them in the pockets.
Net zero had threatened to become perhaps the biggest financial burden faced by families. Government policy was to force us into installing costly heat pumps, insulation and solar panels, as well as shelling out for expensive electric cars and charge points.
If you were unlucky enough to live in an older, badly insulated property, that was simply tough, you’d have to pay more to do your bit.
The discontent around net zero targets and costly green politics had been bubbling away but reached boiling point when Labour was defeated in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election amidst outrage over Sadiq Khan’s Ulez expansion in London.
Now the Tories have realised that asking the British public to foot the bill for net zero is not going to win any votes.
The Prime Minister has finally acknowledged that these arbitrary deadlines were too soon and too harsh. He also admitted that the changes to net zero policy will likely save the average family up to £15,000.
Now no household or property owner will be forced to introduce energy efficiency improvements, and landlords will no longer face fines if they fail to upgrade their homes.
Households are to be offered thousands of pounds more to install a heat pump, and the ban on new gas and oil boilers will be relaxed. The ban on new petrol and diesel cars was also delayed from 2030 to 2035.
It was inevitable given the injustice of it all and the significant burden it placed on ordinary families.
But for many, the damage has already been done. Homeowners have spent thousands in fear and anticipation of the new rules thrust upon them.
Landlords, many banking on property for retirement, were forced to flee the market after arbitrary deadlines were thrust on them.
Net zero was a millstone around the necks of British families, and it was made all the worse by rising taxes, a mortgage crisis and rampant inflation.
The Tories have finally seen sense, but it’s taken the threat of electoral obliteration. Forgiveness will not come easily.
What is ‘net zero’, and how much will it cost you?