​Pushing ban on oil boilers back by a decade is 'a big win for the people of Northern Ireland' says DUP MP as Rishi Sunak abandons a rash of green policies

Sammy Wilson (Photo: /)
Sammy Wilson (Photo: /)

​The DUP MP also called for Rishi Sunak to go further than just dropping individual policies and to ditch his legally-binding commitment for the UK to reach "net zero" by 2050 altogether.

He was speaking after Mr Sunak announced on Wednesday that a raft of green government policies were being scrapped, and a list of informal proposals were being ruled out.

• A pending ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, due to kick in during 2030, will be delayed to 2035.

The ban was never going to have any effect on the sale of second-hand petrol / diesel cars, and an existing ban on the sale of new hybrid cars will still take effect as planned from 2035.

• A plan to force landlords to upgrade the insulation in their houses has been scrapped.

This last policy meant that, from 2025, new tenancies would only be possible on properties with an Energy Performance Certificate of C or higher, and that this would apply to existing tenancies as well from 2028; both are now null and void.

• A ban on installing new oil and liquid-fuel gas boilers and new coal heating in homes which are off the gas grid will now be delayed from the current deadline of 2026 to 2035.

The Prime Minister also ruled out a number of ideas which had been floated by environmental advocates too, saying: "The proposal for Government to interfere in how many passengers you can have in your car. I’ve scrapped it.

"The proposal that we should force you to have seven different bins in your home. I’ve scrapped it.

"The proposal to make you change your diet – and harm British farmers – by taxing meat, or to create new taxes to discourage flying or going on holiday. I’ve scrapped those too.”

The pushing back of the boiler ban for almost another decade is of particular significance for Northern Ireland says Mr Wilson, given how many people are need boilers which are not connected to a gas main.

When it comes to Mr Sunak's general roll-back on his green plans, Mr Wilson said: "All I can say is: What kept him? Why did it take him so long?

"It was evident from Day One that this 'net zero' nonsense was going to cost people a fortune, destroy jobs, make us more dependent on countries with less rigorous environmental standards than we have, and would have absolutely no impact on the world's climate."

Mr Sunak had only signed up to such policies to avoid "the hysteria of the green lobby," said Mr Wilson.

On delaying the boiler ban, Mr Wilson said: "That's a big plus for Northern Ireland because, being a rural area, we've stacks of people who are 'off grid', and 'off grid' tends to mean oil heating.

"It is an important one for Northern Ireland because people would have been so impacted by not being able to buy an oil boiler.

"That's a big win for people in Northern Ireland.

"The thing is, you still have [the boiler ban in] 2035 hanging over your head, but for many people that'll not matter; in my case by 2035 I'll probably be dead anyway."

The ambition of “net zero” by 2050 does not mean the UK will stop producing carbon emissions, but the idea is that any which are produced will be offset by things like planting trees and the still largely-untested idea of pumping CO2 into storage in the ground.

Mr Wilson said the whole 2050 target is “totally unrealistic and stupid", and urged Mr Sunak to abandon it.

"What he needs to do is say: 'See the target for 2050? It's a guide. It's not a target, it's an aspiration,” he said, adding that as long as it remains a legal target, the government will be vulnerable to legal action by green activists.