New polling by YouGov on behalf of heating industry trade bodies OFTEC and UKIFDA has found that 83% of rural councillors want their constituents to have a real choice about how they decarbonise their home heating.
Around three quarters, 73%, said their constituents are concerned about the financial impact of Net Zero.
The findings also showed that councillors across different regions are concerned about the prospect of the government not giving people a choice about the best way to decarbonise their home heating. All councillors polled in Yorkshire and Humber, irrespective of party, said that rural households must be given a choice, while 95% in the North East and 92% in the South West agreed.
The 1.7 million off gas grid UK households, many of them in rural communities, who rely on heating oil to heat their homes, are facing little choice in their route to decarbonising their home heating and at much higher costs according to OFTEC. Under current government proposals, it noted these households will be subject to a ban, in less than three years, on new and replacement boilers, with their only current option being to install a heat pump.
The polling results were particularly stark for the Conservative Party, OFTEC said. The poll found that 89% of Conservative councillors want their constituents to have a real choice and 79% say their constituents are concerned about the financial impact that Net Zero will have on rural households. The regional break down found that 100% of Conservative councillors in key electoral battlegrounds, including the South West, North East and Yorkshire and Humber agreed that rural communities should be given the choice to decarbonise in a way that suits them.
The polling comes ahead of a crucial set of local elections for the parties next month, with almost two thirds of the contested seats in rural district councils, representing the majority of off grid households, a statement added.
Chief executive of OFTEC, Paul Rose, pictured, said: “Councillors of all parties, from Cornwall to Cumberland, are in overwhelming agreement: customers must be given the choice to pick how they want to decarbonise their heating. The government must recognise, that a heat pump-first approach removes choice, adds cost and will particularly leave rural communities disadvantaged. Decarbonisation can be achieved more quickly, and in a fairer and more equitable manner, simply by giving consumers the power to choose.”