Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing Review - Gypsy / Traveller Sites subgroup minutes: December 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the subgroup on 01 December 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Anonymous, Community Representative
  • Callum Neil, Scottish Government
  • Ciara O'Connor, Scottish Government
  • Dorothy Ogle , Scottish Government
  • Ian Craddock , Scottish Government
  • Ian Dawson, Fife Council
  • John Smith, South Lanarkshire Council
  • Karen McLaughlan, Scottish Government
  • Kathy, Community Representative
  • Lori McElroy, University of Strathclyde
  • Nicola Lennon, Perth & Kinross Council
  • Shirell Johnson, Mecopp
  • Simon Roberts, Scottish Government
  • Tommy Bennett, Mecopp

Items and actions

  • IC to share draft funding criterion scope for the SHNZHF. Due December 2022
  • SG to update and share remit doc. Due December 2022
  • SG to schedule date of next meeting for January 2023. Due January 2023
  • SG to provide update from the metric subgroup at the next meeting. Due January 2023
  • SG to prepare pros and cons list of zero emissions heating systems. Due January 2023

Welcome and introductions

List of attendees available in the Annex

Simon Roberts welcomed everyone and thanked all for agreeing to be part of the EESSH2 review subgroup on Gypsy / Traveller Sites and noted there were two community representatives in the meeting to provide lived experience. 

Lived experience

Two community representatives gave their experience of living on a site in relation to how they use their pitch and their energy use. Experience of Kathy:

  • resides permanently at the site
  • currently in alternative accommodation whilst upgrade works are carried out – new amenity blocks with ASHPs being built
  • spending £90 - £100 per week last winter on electricity to heat and cook in the block, which would be much higher this year with the increase in prices
  • no insulation in the block, problems with damp and mould
  • gas heated caravan

Experience of anonymous:

  • block on pitch in poor state of repair with mould, dampness, vermin and drainage issues
  • breeze block construction
  • insulation supposed to have been fitted in cavity but wasn’t done
  • the block has two storage heaters, however these are faulty so the resident uses to 2 plug in heaters, costing £30 - £40 a week to run
  • no cooker in the kitchen of the block
  • LPG to heat the caravan and do the cooking costs around £100 per week
  • the site owners recently spent £65,000 on other issues within the site, which the resident believes could have been better spent on upgrading the blocks, for example providing a day room
  • the resident would most like to see the provision of a day room, which would save him on heating 

Tommy advised he has a day room with infrared heating, which costs around £25 per week to heat.

The benefits of infrared heating are that it heats the occupants, rather than the room, which prevents wasted energy when people come and go from the blocks. Possible issues with damp could arise however experience of installing this heating in well insulated stock has not shown any issues so far.

ASHPs may not be the best solution, as they take time to heat a space at a low temperature – if residents are coming and going regularly and opening doors then the heat pump would lose its efficiency and use more energy than designed.

PV and battery storage a good option to install on electrically heated blocks.

Community reps happy with the inclusion of gypsy / traveller sites within in EESSH if it improves their accommodation. 

It should be recognised that different communities have different needs.

Review of the subgroup remit

Members of the subgroup were invited to ask any questions or provide any thoughts on the subgroup remit circulated prior to the meeting.

Everyone was content with the remit. Karen McLaughlan to be added to the membership from a fuel poverty perspective.

It was noted there was a requirement to look for alternatives metrics to SAP, which is also being considered in the other subgroups. There will be a differentiation between this group and other housing types, due to the different nature in which the blocks are used when compared with a typical house.

It was agreed by the subgroup that it was important not leave gypsy / traveller sites out of the scope of the new energy efficiency standard. Local Authority landlords had previously been sceptical due to the challenges involved, however now agreed no one should be left behind.

Challenges and considerations

The challenges of setting a target for gypsy / traveller sites were discussed:

  • EPCs are not appropriate and there is no requirement to lodge an EPC. The units do not have bedrooms so they are not technically dwellings. Any EPC for the blocks would not be accurate
  • the residents usually have a pitch agreement, rather than a tenancy agreement
  • hard to access funding
  • large composition of different unit types – eg. Chalets, amenity blocks, day rooms etc

Other considerations for the group:

  • sites have a range of fuels – urban sites may be mains gas, rural sites largely electric with storage or panel heaters
  • tenant engagement required on how to use heating system efficiently
  • heat pumps may not be the best option due to occupants coming and going a lot – vestibules can help with heat loss though
  • where residents were only heating single rooms before they may see bills go with whole house systems like heat pumps
  • for many sites there are maintenance issues that must be rectified to bring the units up to minimum housing standard, which could be done in conjunction with energy efficiency improvements.
  • a starting point for a standard could be parity with social housing, and then determining what is feasible of this standard

For future meetings:

  • discussion on metric, considering the outcome from the subgroup 1 on metric - kWh/m2/year or list of measures are options
  • reflect on the pros and cons of different zero emissions heating systems

Ian C to share the draft funding criterion scope for the Social Housing Net Zero Heat Fund.

Any other business

The next meeting is scheduled for January 2023. 

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