Ban on new oil boilers put back to 2035 as government announces new Net Zero policies

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced his new strategy to achieve Net Zero by 2050, which includes new dates for the bans on sales of new boilers and petrol cars.

In an unusual statement televised to the public rather than through the House of Commons, Sunak set out his new policies.

  • New oil boilers will still be able to be sold until 2035, moved from 2026
  • Sales of new gas boilers still planned to be banned from 2035, but the poorest households will not have to switch. New technology will only have to be put in when people replace their existing boiler and poorer households “will never have to switch at all”
  • The Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant has been increased from £5000 to £7,500
  • A 5 year delay on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035
  • Scrapping the need for landlords to make their rental properties have an EPC of C or higher by 2025.

Richard Lowes – Senior Associate – RAP – said:

“The speech seemed to confirm the 2035 date for banning the installation of replacement gas boilers but has added some wriggle room around difficult to treat properties, not much has changed here. For oil boilers replacements which were expected to be banned in 2026, this date does seem to have been pushed back to 2035 but on the other hand, the PM’s announcements will actually provide a huge boost for heat pumps, increasing the BUS grant level from £5k to £7.5k.All of this uncertainty is not good for industry which needs to invest if the UK is to reduce emissions and reduce gas imports. My biggest concern is around the weakened energy efficiency proposals which will mostly affect the poorest in society and renters. Overall this looks like a big win for landlords.”

Henrik Hansen, Managing Director at Vaillant Group UK & Ireland added:

“We recognise the importance of giving homeowners choice when it comes to heating their homes. For almost 150 years we’ve been committed to providing efficient heating solutions for our customers’ homes and, as a manufacturer of both gas boilers and heat pumps, we are technology agnostic. Our aim is to provide unbiased guidance for homeowners on both technologies to make the right decision for their property and heating requirements.

“We understand from customer feedback that the cost and complexity of transitioning to a heat pump is a major barrier for homeowners keen to install low carbon technology. Our experience from some European countries with more established heat pump markets has shown that stronger subsidies and the benefit of lower running costs can speed up the consumer adoption of the technology. The announcement today of the increase of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme to £7,500 will be welcome news to homeowners in England and Wales considering making the switch.

“We await more detail from the announcement made today on the overall budget for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. If the overall budget is not increased, the number of homeowners able to access the grant will be limited to 20,000 per annum which represents less than 0.1% of the housing stock in the UK, potentially slowing down the transition to heat pumps. We believe that significant investment into consumer education is needed together with a rebalancing of gas and electricity prices to make the potential benefits of installing and running a heat pump more attractive to the homeowner.

“With the number of installers able to competently install a heat pump under the MCS scheme still at a relatively low level compared to gas safe registered installers, more needs to be done to upskill existing installers while attracting new skilled labour to the industry.”

Mark McManus, STIEBEL ELTRON UK Managing Director, added:

“The Government announced plans to water down its drive towards net-zero with one of the initiatives, a proposed ban on fossil fuel boilers, being pushed back to 2035, with households only having to make a switch when they are changing their boiler

“The Government’s decision to renege on its pledges weakens the UK’s opportunity to be a global leader in the renewable energy sector with the UK falling further behind its net-zero targets and those of other countries, while also bringing increased costs as we lose control of climate change.

“However, informed consumers still want to move away from gas boilers and know there are other options available, with heat pumps representing a reliable, fully-functioning, renewable heating system which people can be confident will perform just as well as a traditional boiler.  

“The Government should therefore listen to the majority people who support the phasing out of fossil fuel boilers.

“For anyone who is interested in looking at alternative heating measures to gas boilers in their home, or for those looking to become qualified within the industry, we would be delighted to share our knowledge with them.”

Kelly Becker, Zone President, Schneider Electric UK and Ireland:

“Schneider Electric is committed to supporting the transition to net zero to address the climate crisis. We’re seeing indications from businesses in the UK and Ireland that trends towards electrification, automation and digitisation show no signs of slowing down, and we will continue to enable these trends in service of net zero and a strong green economy for the UK in the future.”

Henk van den Berg, Residential Sales Manager at Daikin UK commented: “Heat pumps are now more affordable than ever. By increasing the Boiler Upgrade Scheme support to £7,500, the Government has made renewable heating more accessible. However, the overall funding hasn’t been increased which means that there will be fewer installations overall for the remainder of the BUS scheme.

“Continuing to exclude hybrid heat pump systems – the cheapest and fastest way to decarbonise home heating – from the Scheme is a real misstep.

“Moving back the deadline for banning oil/LPG boilers till 2035 and the full cancellation of the landlord’s efficiency targets will have a severe impact in the mid term. This is only going to make hitting the 2050 net zero target harder and, most likely, more expensive for households. Especially as our PM failed to address the electricity levy once again, still favouring fossil fuels from a tax perspective.

“The Government has clearly given-up on its commitment to see up to 600,000 heap pumps being installed a year by 2028. This is going to undermine confidence, foreign investments and will have a significant impact on the growth in green jobs.”

A spokesperson from NIBE Energy Systems added:

“We are exasperated by the Prime Minister’s decision to delay the phase out of fossil fuel boilers in off grid homes and strongly disagree with the notion that the technology needed isn’t ready. Heat pumps represent a viable solution that can help us achieve Net Zero -a target that should be a top priority without hesitation or delay.

“Additionally, while the increase in funding for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme aligns with our advocacy efforts, it is just one of many necessary steps. For example, ground source heat pumps are a logical solution in off-grid homes using high carbon fossil fuels, yet the scheme covers a lower percentage of their costs compared to other technologies.

“Moreover, policy certainty is crucial not only to industry but installers who need confidence in the direction of the market. The decision to backtrack on targets sends all the wrong signals at a time when we need the green light to pave the way for a net zero future.”

Russell Dean, Residential Product Group Director at Mitsubishi Electric said:

“Home heating currently accounts for almost a fifth of overall carbon emissions in the UK, so changing how we heat our homes will continue to play a crucial role in reaching current targets for net zero. To do this, we must focus on transitioning away from reliance on oil and gas boilers and towards more renewable energy sources like heat pumps.

“Heat pumps are three times more efficient than fossil fuel boilers, and we are highly confident in their ability to help in decarbonising home heating and contributing to the delivery of net zero by 2050 – with the government currently targeting 600,000 installations per year by 2028.

“This means a concerted effort is now needed to support the wider adoption of heat pump technology, including greater clarity for industry from the government and a firm date for the ending of oil and gas boiler installations. Lowering energy usage by insulating the existing housing stock, decoupling the price of electricity from gas and upskilling the next generation of heating engineers will also help support the transition to renewable home heating as we aim to reach net zero by 2050.”

“The industry needs certainty to continue with its investment; this will inevitably provide huge opportunities for employment and growth. We look forward to upcoming announcements on the government’s continued commitment to net zero.”