The Scottish Government (SG) has committed to bringing forward Regulations which will come into force on 1 April 2024 that prohibit the use of direct emissions heating systems (DEHS) in new domestic and non-domestic buildings.

The crux of the proposals is that from 1 April 2024, DEHS within any new building applying for a building warrant, will be prohibited. DEHS emit greenhouse gases at the point of use, such as gas boilers. Currently, there are an estimated two million households in Scotland that rely currently on gas heating systems.

This consultation follows on from the 'high level pre-cursor' NBHS Consultation Part 1, which gathered broadly supportive responses to the SG's intention to regulate this area (according to independent analysis).

The public have until 20 October 2022 to take part in the consultation by completing the online form or by submitting responses in writing. The online consultation questions give an indication of the proposed scope of the new Regulations and seek views on:

  • Whether respondents agree with the approach to prohibit DEHS in new buildings from 1 April 2024;
  • What limited, specific situations would require the use of bioenergy systems (i.e. biomass systems) in new buildings. The current approach is that bioenergy would not be compliant with the proposed Regulations.
  • Whether respondents agree with the approach proposed for conversions of existing buildings - essentially if any work to an existing building requires a building warrant and would already require the installation of a new heat generating system, then DEHS will be prohibited.
  • Criteria respondents would use to define replacement of a DEHS as being 'reasonably practicable' and 'not reasonably practicable' in the context of a conversion
  • How the proposals may impact people with a protected characteristic as defined in the Equality Act 2010
  • How these proposals may help SG ensure due regard to the 3 needs of the public sector equality duty; and
  • Whether respondents anticipate any form of heating within a non-domestic building which will require a DEHS after 2024 (due to technical, economic, social etc reasons).

The aim of the draft legislation to reduce emissions is no doubt broadly welcomed. The recent energy price hikes and instability of gas supplies underline the need to move away from DEHS, reliance on gas and also to increase focus on ways to tackle fuel poverty. However, there is still much uncertainty as to whether non-DEH technology or so-called zero direct emissions heating (ZDEH) systems, will be available and affordable at the scale required to replace DEHS in all new builds by 2024. Regulation of ZDEH Heat Networks is expected in early 2024.

SG recently published some research on ZDEH in affordable housing projects, gathered from eight stakeholders. The evaluation summarised that most of the stakeholders were happy with the performance of the ZDEH systems and tenant satisfaction appeared to be high. However, it also noted a knowledge hub would be welcome to facilitate knowledge sharing and best practice and that: "real data on the actual performance of ZDEH systems is very limited both in this project and more widely in the industry". 

To put forward your views on the prohibition of DEHS, complete the consultation questions by 20 October 2022.


Claire Mills

Legal Director