BCBC Cabinet receives update on energy efficiency work

copyright Lisa Baker 2021

The Cabinet of Bridgend County Borough Council has received an update on efforts to address issues which arose as a result of various domestic energy efficiency programmes promoted throughout the Caerau ward in 2012-2013.

While some funds for this work were administered through the council as part of the Welsh Government-funded Arbed scheme, work was also promoted and carried out independently by the contractor, Green Renewable Wales Ltd, and various sub-contractors.

This was funded by energy companies as part of the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) and Carbon Emission Reduction Target (CERT) schemes – two national initiatives established by UK Government to ensure contributions from energy companies towards carbon-saving work in areas identified as being most at risk of fuel poverty.

Although the council only administered the funding for work on a small number of properties involved in the Welsh Government-funded scheme, the authority is continuing to pursue an all-inclusive solution which aims to address all 150 affected homes in Caerau, irrespective of who carried out the work or whether it was funded via Arbed, CERT or CESP.

The council administered funding for 25 of the 104 homes in Caerau which received internal and external wall insulation works, and appointed Green Renewable Wales Ltd as the main contractor.

A survey by independent specialists NuVision Energy Wales which was undertaken to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the work confirmed that many of the properties had significant problems.

Since receiving the results of the independent report, the council has contacted each of the energy companies involved in the scheme, and has met with senior Welsh Government officials and energy regulators OFGEM.

The council has recommended to them that, while the predominant issues lie with work carried out under the CESP and CERT initiatives, an all-inclusive solution is required which should aim to address the matter as a whole.

Chief Executive Mark Shephard said: “While there is no question that there were flaws within the original Arbed national domestic energy efficiency programme, this remains a relatively small part of the overall issue, and it is apparent that the majority of the problematic work was carried out under the CERT and CESP initiatives.

“Following our discussions, Welsh Government is formally raising the matter with ministers, and has agreed to approach the UK Government to ensure a full understanding and to request their intervention in order to address the current issues.

“This remains a difficult and complicated matter, and more work clearly needs to be carried out. We are continuing to make representations to both Welsh Government and UK Government, and I hope this will enable me to come back to Cabinet with an agreed, comprehensive solution.

“In the event that an all-inclusive solution does not materialise, we will consider options for the 25 properties where the council was involved in administrating funding for the internal and external wall insulation work as a matter of priority.”

Councillor Richard Young, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “It is encouraging to know that that UK Government, Welsh Government and OFCOM are all in discussions over how the issues can be resolved since we last discussed the problems that have arisen from the 2012-13 energy efficiency programme.

“This makes perfect sense given that the independent report has confirmed the bulk of the problematic work was carried out under the CERT and CESP initiatives rather than that which was directly commissioned by the council through Arbed.

“I would like to reassure Caerau residents who have been affected by this that the council continues to take the matter extremely seriously, and we will do all that we can to support the community.

“I look forward to receiving further updates, and remain hopeful that as a result of the ongoing talks, the all-inclusive solution will soon be forthcoming.”