7. Public Engagement
The heat decarbonisation agenda will impact nearly everyone living in Scotland. That is why, as set out in our Heat in Buildings Strategy, we are now developing a Public Engagement Strategy that will set out a framework to ensure people are placed at the heart of the transition to zero emissions heating in Scotland, reflecting the principles of a Just Transition.
Key to the strategy will be raising awareness and understanding of the changes we need to see in how we heat our homes and buildings, both now and in the future, so that people have assurance and confidence in the direction of travel that we are taking, and why. We need to raise the profile of energy efficiency and zero emissions heating options so that people are aware of the benefits, and begin to see them as a positive choice that can work for them.
Through the Public Engagement Strategy we will also explore ways to best enable people to actively participate in shaping the development of Scottish Government policy and incentives; and, working closely with local authorities, how people can help inform local level heat and energy efficiency planning. This includes, for example, consulting on any proposed new national level regulations relating to energy efficiency standards of properties and zero emissions heating installations, ahead of drafting legislation.
Once established, the new dedicated National Public Energy Agency will lead on public engagement delivery, as part of its wider remit to coordinate and scale up delivery of the heat decarbonisation agenda from 2025 onwards. In recognition of the need and urgency to act now, we are putting in place a virtual Agency by September 2022, which will act as a stepping stone towards the dedicated body.
This will include translation of the Public Engagement Strategy into an implementation plan, which may extend to, for example: taking an active role in communicating to the public how they can access the required quality standards for energy efficiency and zero emissions heat; and how they can protect themselves, as consumers, from fraud and mis-selling practices in this space. The virtual Agency will also lead on a review of the existing delivery, advice and support landscape in Scotland for heat and energy efficiency retrofit.
Helping consumers access approved suppliers
It is vital to our Heat in Buildings strategy and net zero targets that consumers have access to high quality suppliers regardless of where they live in Scotland. This will be achieved through a combination of the actions in this policy statement, our Supply Chain Delivery Plan, our Home Energy Scotland advice service and our proposed public engagement strategy. From a consumer's perspective we want to:
- Develop brand awareness of the TrustMark quality mark and the assurances and protections that come with it.
- Streamline the process for consumers wishing to improve their homes by ensuring they can find suppliers easily and have a single point of contact for redress should things go wrong.
- Provide impartial and independent advice to help consumers through the entire retrofit journey.
- Demonstrate to the public and potential rogue traders that enforcement action will be taken against rogue traders that take advantage of consumers.
As of September 2022, we will work with the new virtual National Public Energy Agency – and future dedicated body – to ensure our messages, advice and support are provided to all consumer groups across Scotland and that consumers have a say in the development of associated policy and interventions.
We will continue to work closely with a range of stakeholders and networks in order to reach different consumer groups across Scotland to increase awareness and understanding of the changes necessary as we transition to zero carbon heating. In addition, we will try to elevate the consumer voice in order to inform ongoing developments and considerations relating to quality assurance.
We will investigate the development of an online portal powered by TrustMark and MCS to help consumers find approved suppliers in Scotland.
It is important that consumers can find approved suppliers in one place as effectively as possible and we will work with our partners in Scotland with the aim to develop an online portal to achieve this which will provide access to both energy efficiency (TrustMark approved) and microgeneration/zero emissions heat (MCS approved) suppliers in one place. We will also work to ensure that those suppliers listed on the tool do what they say they do, particularly with regards to areas of operation to give consumers confidence that a supplier operates in their area.
As part of broader transition work regarding heat decarbonisation delivery programmes to the dedicated National Public Energy Agency, once established in 2025, consideration will also be given as to whether or not a portal of this type should be hosted by the new body.
In introducing new primary legislation for energy efficiency and zero direct emissions heat, we will consider making it a requirement for any enforcement body to provide information on relevant approved suppliers who can help them meet the standard.
We have committed in the Heat in Buildings strategy to introduce legislation to improve the energy efficiency of domestic and non-domestic buildings and to require Zero Emissions Heating to be installed. We consider it important that any building owners or occupants required to carry out work on their property under resulting regulations are also fully informed of their options, the support available to them and also how to engage suppliers/installers in their area that are approved to the relevant quality assurance standards.
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