Study to see if energy-efficient buildings in East Devon could net council tax and business rates discounts

East Devon residents and traders with energy-efficient buildings could pay less in council tax and business rates, if a £50,000 research project proves successful.

The Government-funded study is under way in the district to see if discounts could incentivise people to improve their properties in the fight against climate change.

A sample of households and businesses in the Exe Valley are being asked about their attitudes to energy-efficiency and renewable energy.

Councillor Ian Thomas, East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) portfolio holder for finance and chairman of the Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone board, said: “As part of our work on climate emergency we are striving to be innovative.

“This Government-funded study allows us to work with residents and businesses to explore whether council tax and business rate incentives would drive improvements in the energy efficiency of properties in the district.”

Research is being carried out in partnership with the Centre for Energy and Environment at the University of Exeter.

Its head Tony Norton said: “The centre is working with a range of public sector partners responding to the climate emergency.

“Homes in the UK represent 13 per cent of carbon emissions, and commercial/non-domestic buildings account for a further 12 per cent.

“Improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings is therefore essential to address climate change.

“This study exploring the use of financial incentives is an example of the kind of measures being considered.

“The survey is an important part of our research.”

The results of the survey will be analysed and summarised in a report due to be published in the spring.

EDDC says that, if the evidence supports the use of council tax and business rates to increase the uptake of energy-efficiency measures, there is ‘potential to develop a pilot scheme to test the concept in practice’.

The project cost of £50,000 is funded by central government through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

EDDC says the Exe Valley Ward has been chosen for the household survey ‘as homes in this area are broadly representative of the District as a whole’.

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