Heat in buildings: Local Government Oversight Group minutes - September 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group held on 21 September 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Robert Nicol, COSLA
  • Calum Lindsay, COSLA
  • Mike Callaghan, COSLA
  • Sue Kearns, Scottish Government
  • Catherine Williams, Scottish Government
  • Neal Rafferty, Scottish Government
  • Amy Tickell, Scottish Government
  • James Hemphill, Scottish Government
  • Gareth Fenney, Scottish Government
  • Ciara O'Connor, Scottish Government
  • Drew Murphy, Scottish Government
  • Edmund Chapman, Scottish Government
  • Karen Major, Scottish Government
  • Mark Stewart, Scottish Government
  • Maddie MacLellan, Scottish Government
  • Saskia Kearns, Scottish Government
  • Matthew Shepherd, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Verity House Agreement

After welcome and introductions from the Chair, COSLA introduced the new partnership agreement. Signed end June by the First Minister and COSLA President. Reset relationship between the Scottish Government and Local Government. Aim to work together in a more effective way. Three shared priorities: poverty, just transition to net zero, improving public services. Intention to take time to think through how we will develop work programmes to deliver these. Heat in Buildings (HIB) one of the central pillars of just transition priority. Great opportunity to drive joint working.

Discussion reflected that Heat in Buildings is ahead of many areas, good to recognise this. But given the size of the challenge, we need to go further, faster, and deeper due to the importance of this area. Need to find the most effective approach possible. Will be a process. 

Heat in Buildings Bill update

SG confirmed looking to consult this year on a HIB Bill. The bill is likely to include a HIB Standard – zero emissions heating by 2045 and Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) C by 2035. Does not include social housing, which is included in the review of the Energy Efficiency Standards for Social Housing 2 (EESSH2). 

COSLA want to help with this and see the bill as a critical piece of legislation. Good to get around the table to collectively decide the way forward, timing of consultation, how it will land at Local Government. 


Follow up conversation on timing of consultation.

Heat in Buildings delivery update

SG focused on future delivery, lots on engagement with local authorities. Regulations only part of the jigsaw. Work under way on social housing, heat networks, private investment. Example of area-based approaches. Spectrum of options to look at. Keen to work jointly to look at what those models might be. Green Heat Finance Taskforce (GHFT) looking at how this might be taken forward. 

COSLA agreed delivery is the heart of the challenge. How to make public money work the hardest. Happy to have that conversation. 

SG are thinking about heat network delivery models. Keen to have a workshop to discuss these and look at opportunities with senior leaders at local authorities. 

Noted upcoming GHFT reports. Something to discuss at a future meeting. 

Noted link to Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES) and the need to respond to the local authorities’ LHEES Delivery Plans.

SG are adding support to the Heat Network Support Unit to bring strategic support to local authorities. 


Meeting to discuss models and get early thoughts. Workshop to discuss ideas and be on the same page. 

Area Based Schemes (ABS)

SG are looking to bring greater certainty to investment through ABS. Discussion on multi-year funding. Allocation is agreed annually currently by Council Leaders and Ministers based on fuel poverty. Need to revisit this, bring paper to the data working group. Looking to engage with COSLA colleagues. Assuming the main basis is fuel poverty, looking to seek views and shape next ten years of ABS. 

COSLA welcomed the paper. ABS has had a very positive impact, lots of good practice there. Challenges getting building owners on board. Good progress around the country, but still lots of areas to cover. 

SG introduced new flexibility a few years ago so councils could introduce new projects and these often involved solar photovoltaics (PV). Has benefits from a fuel poverty perspective. Looking to expand what ABS does and do more for the most vulnerable households. 

COSLA content to continue the approach as set out.

Heat in Buildings regulations enforcement

SG discussed HIB regulations enforcement. Want to engage with COSLA members as soon as possible. 


Set up meeting to discuss. 

Energy Efficiency Standards for Social Housing 2 (EESSH2) consultation

Review underway looking to bring EESSH2 in line with net zero. Various technical groups and an overarching stakeholder review group. Have taken through research to establish a proposal for new standard. Taken on board views of the group to reflect these in the consultation document with the plan to consult this year. Major challenge around how EESSH2 will be paid for and affordability. Working closely with HIB delivery division on this.

COSLA noted a hiatus in the review group but that it is now moving forward. Good to see the consultation being shaped by feedback. Agreed that funding is a major barrier and would welcome suggestions on investment.

Public engagement strategy

SG are looking to publish a public engagement strategy. Framework is modelled on wider SG climate change strategy. Additional principle is partnership-led approach. Working together to make this more tangible, easing the consumer journey. Marketing campaigns in train for this financial year. Working with Local Government, setting up new partnership. How to leverage trusted messenger role of local government. 

COSLA asked if SG are participating in climate week please link in with COSLA so they can support. 


SG to ensure COSLA are kept in the loop on campaigns.

Any other business

SG raised need to review non-domestic rates for heat networks. Looking to work with COSLA to look at the impact of this. 

COSLA/SG working towards setting up a meeting between COSLA spokesperson Councillor Macgregor and Mr Harvie, need to work towards this.


Set up meeting with COSLA. 

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