Mike Foster, chief executive of the Energy and Utilities Alliance
In what has been described as ‘Soviet-style production planning’ that could lead to Lada-quality heat pumps, the Heat and Building Strategy – which could be unveiled as early as this week – is set to include a legal obligation called ‘The Market Mechanism’, backed up by penalties, if UK boiler manufacturers fail to sell a Whitehall-set target number of heat pumps.
Mike Foster, chief executive of the Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA), the industry body that represents the UK’s heating industry, says his members are concerned that quotas will simply suck in cheap foreign imports risking the very policy they are meant to support.
“Anecdotally, we hear of Chinese heat pump manufacturers approaching UK firms with a view to selling cheap appliances for UK firms to badge and meet the Whitehall-imposed production quota.
“Our members, who are facing a financial penalty if they don’t supply the market with enough heat pumps to satisfy the Whitehall bureaucrats, may end up bringing these cheap imports into the UK or paying a fine if they don’t. It is the most un-Conservative industrial policy I have ever seen.
“We will see innovative and successful British industry penalised because Whitehall officials fail to see the bigger picture. The pain will be felt in places like Preston, Hull, Derbyshire and Worcester.
“The route to Net Zero and low carbon homes is not Soviet-style production planning that attempts to force products into a market regardless of consumer demand. We risk the heat pump version of the old Lada factories producing lines and lines of poor-quality cars that nobody wants.
“Our members want to help the Government and will be meeting to agree more practical ways to sell a full range of low carbon technologies, based on a solid understanding of industry. “Centrally planned production targets are better suited to a Soviet regime, not a government that believes in the free market. Perhaps it’s time for Ministers to take charge of this policy and not their officials. The heating industry is happy to meet them at any time to avoid a catastrophic mistake of Lada-esque proportions.”