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District Heating Sector

Volume 602: debated on Thursday 19 November 2015

13. What recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of statutory regulation of the district heating sector. (902232)

We do not believe that further statutory regulation is appropriate for the sector at this stage, but are keeping this under review. We welcome the voluntary consumer protection scheme, Heat Trust, which is launching next week. The scheme aims to provide customers with comparable protections to those available in statute to gas and electricity customers. We believe that, when combined with metering and billing regulations, this represents a proportionate approach to the consumer challenges in the sector.

The vast majority of customers served by district heating networks, including thousands in my constituency, believe strongly that they do not offer a fair deal, and the industry-led solution, Heat Trust, will I think do little to allay fears in that regard or build consumer confidence. May I urge the Secretary of State to revisit the question of whether effective statutory regulation would give customers locked into these monopoly schemes a better deal?

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. I am aware that heating networks do not have the same regulatory framework. Heat Trust is launching on 25 November, following development and consultation with consumer groups and Government. I see that he has a certain doubt about the success of Heat Trust, but we will work closely to monitor its impact and will assess, based on its record, whether further action is needed.