Turbines Tree

Thanks Ed ! You’ve done it to us again !

I have never made any secret of the fact that I see the Green Deal as potentially very good for the energy assessment industry, and potentially very good for the country, so I’m keen to see it work, which no doubt colours my attitude to other press coverage of it.

But am I really the only person who thinks that some very odd stuff has gone on over press coverage of the scheme?

Take the gem below which appeared today on the Guardian website:

Four out of five people have not heard of green deal, poll finds

UK government’s flagship energy efficiency programme remains largely unknown just days before its launch

Admittedly the Guardian – for reasons which are genuinely hard to fathom in a title with generally pretty ‘brown rice’ views – has been virulently anti-Green Deal right from the start, and featured prominently in the article I did on Green Deal and the press back in October. But even so you would hope for a bit of common sense, wouldn’t you? I mean, as their second deck of headline points out, the scheme has not launched yet! Why should you expect people to have heard of a scheme that hasn’t launched yet?

This sort of thing has been going on for months, and I simply can’t imagine a comparable situation in the private sector. If a big commercial company was planning to launch a new product, would any newspaper be running ‘shock-horror’ headlines before the launch claiming that no-one had heard of the product? Of course not! The company would be saying, ‘Of course not, we haven’t launched it yet!’ There would be hundreds of ‘Doh!’ posts on forums. The paper would be a laughing stock!

The Coalition has got to shoulder some of the responsibility for this. I said at the time that it was a major error not to make some announcement on the original launch date of 1 October. They only needed to reiterate that the launch had been postponed some months before, and re-state the timetable, and what might reasonably be expected in terms of early take-up. Instead there was total silence from DECC. Big mistake!

It gave the Opposition the opportunity to have lots of fun, claiming the scheme was a failure long before anyone could actually get a Green Deal plan. We of course know that this is all nonsense and just politicking – but the public don’t.

As a result I have seen people on consumer forums confidently asserting that the scheme launched on 1 October, and is being re-launched at the end of Jan because it has failed so far. Even on LinkedIn forums of people who should know better, I have seen people say ‘Green Deal is dead in the water’. And all this before it has launched!

So who is responsible for this mess? Step forward Energy Minister Ed Davey! He is largely responsible for the situation we are in now because he must be ultimately responsible for the failure to speak up in October, when some statement, however modest, was so badly needed. Though to be fair, both this government and the last have to take their share of the blame for the mess they have made of this industry, what with the fiasco of HIPs, and non-compliance so bad that the EC has threatened to fine the UK millions.

Let’s hope that Ed does better next week and gets the scheme off to a good start, but the doom-mongers and the naysayers have already ensured that Green Deal Scheme has a shedload of negative connotations for the public, which it will take a long time to overcome. And it will of course be assessors out there having to pick up the pieces, overcome those negative connotations and sell the scheme to the public despite all the bad publicity – again. Thanks Ed!

Written by Terry Wardle, Editor of Energy Assessor Magazine

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