Rishi Sunak told to shut down Britain’s gas network and roll out heat pumps

Engineer installing heat pump

Rishi Sunak has been urged to close Britain’s gas network and instead roll out heat pumps

Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon

Published: 18/10/2023

- 10:06

Updated: 18/10/2023

- 10:38

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been warned that natural gas supply must end by 2050 for the UK to meet climate targets

Rishi Sunak has been urged to close Britain’s gas network and instead roll out heat pumps by an influential figure in the country’s infrastructure.

Sir John Armitt, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), said the supply of natural gas to all buildings needs to stop by 2050 if the UK intends to hit climate targets, The Telegraph reports.

He is calling on the Prime Minister to commit to a total ban on gas boiler sales by 2035.

Sir John is also urging the Prime Minister to lay out a plan for how the national gas network would be shut down gradually over the next 27 years.

Rishi Sunak in the House of Commons

Rishi Sunak is being urged to offer subsidies to encourage people to adopt heat pumps


In a national infrastructure assessment, the NIC says heat pumps are the only viable alternative for the UK to heat homes, and said millions of households should get subsidies in a bid to encourage people to get them.

The Commission suggests around £1.3billion per year to 2035 to cover the full cost of heat pump installations for lower income households, with additional support for energy efficiency improvements and devolution to local authorities to manage local energy efficiency programmes.

They also suggested around £1.9billion per year to 2035 is used as an upfront subsidy of £7,000 to households installing a heat pump or connecting to heat networks, plus £3.2billion a year during this period to improve energy efficiency and install heat pumps across the public sector estate and social housing.

Writing in the report’s foreword, Sir John said: “The good news is that modern, reliable infrastructure can support economic growth, help tackle climate change and enhance the natural environment.

“We stand at a pivotal moment in time, with the opportunity to make a major difference to this country’s future. But we need to get on with it.

“People often talk about infrastructure as the backbone of our economy: what our infrastructure needs now is the collective mettle to turn commitments into action that will reap rewards for decades to come.”

However, Jon Butterworth, chief executive of National Gas, has claimed that 11 million of around 29 million households can’t get a heat pump due to a lack of space or unsuitable property.

The NIC said one in 10 homes may not be suitable.

While government subsidies may be welcomed by some, heat pumps can cost significantly more to install.

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) estimates it can cost between £7,000 and £13,000 to install an air-to-water pump, while ground source heat pump installations are estimated to cost between £14,000 and £19,000.

According to UK boiler statistics, Britons can expect to pay anything between £600 and £2,500 for a replacement boiler.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said the government remains committed to retaining the gas network and expanding the use of hydrogen.

A spokesman said: “Our gas network will always be part of our energy system.

“We will continue to work with the industry to explore if using hydrogen offers value for money for consumers and meets the required safety standards.”

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