Regulatory Review Group minutes: January 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 25 January 2024.

Attendees and apologies

  • Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chairman
  • Susan Love, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
  • Fiona Richardson, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
  • Brian Lawrie, Society of Chief Officers of Environmental Health in Scotland
  • Ewan MacDonald-Russell, Scottish Retail Consortium
  • David MacKenzie, Trading Standards
  • Ross Stephen, Scottish Government (Secretariat)
  • Alex Kidd, Scottish Government (Secretariat)
  • James Hemphill, Scottish Government
  • Eleanor Stanley, Scottish Government


  • James Fowlie, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
  • Douglas White, Consumer Scotland
  • Wendy McCutcheon, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome, introductions and approval of minutes

Professor Russel Griggs OBE welcomed attendees and thanked them for participating in this hybrid Regulatory Review Group (RRG) policy spotlight meeting.  Policy officials from DG Net Zero were introduced and presented on Heat in Buildings Bill consultation during the course of the meeting. 

Heat in Buildings Bill

Policy officials joined the RRG and presented on the ongoing work for Heat in Buildings Bill, particularly their live consultation which closes early March 2024. 

The RRG confirmed they would send their advice to the relevant officials and Ministers to ensure they have consideration of any implementation challenges identified. 

A facilitated discussion then took place where the following key points were raised:

  • the RRG set out that a communication plan will be crucial to regulatory success in this policy area. The opportunity for public misunderstanding is not to be underestimated given the complexity of the regulatory proposals. A high profile public information campaign was suggested as one route of communication to alleviate consumer confusion.
  • further work needs to be carried out to improve the supply chain capacity and the Scottish Government’s understanding of market preparedness. It is essential that the market is able to cope with the demand from consumers at implementation date resulting from regulatory change. Consumers will be vulnerable to rogue traders if there is not sufficient capacity in the market to install, repair and enforce the new regulations.
  • clarity is needed on enforcement plans, particularly given the complexities of compliance and enforcement associated with inspecting retrofitted properties. An intended regulator must be identified, and resourcing properly thought through ahead of parliamentary activity coming forward on this.
  • alignment with EPC ratings alongside habitable standard guidance must be set out in parallel with the Heat in Buildings Bill. Policy officials agreed to return to the RRG with the guidance. 
  • an implementation period would be advised, to ensure that there is both the infrastructure in place to deliver the Clean Heat transitions and required enforcement. Clearer details on exemptions will need to be set out, particularly given that officials are suggesting that an automated portal using domestic data already available will help identify proactively which properties would be exempt.
  • cumulative impact on consumers and business should be considered ahead of any proposals being finalised. Other policies in development may land at the same time and could generate more costs for both. Small businesses that are scaling up could be penalised throughout the process. 
  • the BRIA needs to be clear on impact to businesses of all sizes and skills within the market. Funding will be needed to train people for installation of alternate heat sources.

The RRG set out to officials the need for the policy development around the Heat in Buildings Bill to be taken forward in a considered way and at the pace that the market can support regulatory intervention. The successful implementation of proposals will require addressing the points raised above in detail and the RRG would welcome further engagement on these.

AOB and next meeting

It was agreed the RRG would invite Circular Economy policy officials to the next meeting in February 2024 to cover the Circular Economy Bill progress. The session will include a presentation on the policy topic, its development and discussion around practical implementation challenges and how these can be overcome. Officials will issue invitations on behalf of the RRG.

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