£40million project to make Thanet council homes energy efficient and cut carbon footprint

Trove Court and Kennedy House are among those that will receive works

A £40million project to reduce the carbon footprint of Thanet council homes by carrying out works to improve ratings on Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), improve insulation and install heat pump technology will be discussed by Thanet council Cabinet members next week.

The decarbonisation project is part of the council’s work to reach targets under The Climate Change Act, amended in 2019, which commits the UK to becoming ‘net zero’ by 2050.

The authority has £10 million for the works earmarked in its Housing Revenue Account but needs external funding to help pay for the programme for properties to be EPC grade C compliant by 2030 and net zero by 2050.

A bid has been submitted to the government’s 10 year Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) for £4.3million from its current round of grants.

If successful, Thanet council proposes to use the first lot of funding towards a £21.9m programme of capital works to five of the six council tower blocks in the district – Staner Court, Invicta House, Kennedy House, Trove Court and Harbour Towers.

Retrofit works form part of the larger programme which includes the replacement of the existing external wall Insulation, together with structural, fire safety and cyclical works. The external wall insulation has already secured grant funding from the government for pre-tender works and there is anticipated further funding to support the cost of replacement external wall insulation.

Works proposal

  • £8.4m to deliver measures that will reduce carbon emissions to 406 homes -50% funded through SHDF and 50%by TDC.
  • £6.7m to replace existing external wall insulation (EWI), funded by Homes England
  • £6.8 Million for structural and refurbishment works, funded from the approved HRA capital programme.

The council also has £12.3 million earmarked for tower block works from 2022/23.

A TDC decarbonisation document says: “They are the worst performing properties in our housing stock. We need to carry out fire safety and structural works; and have obtained Homes England funding for the External Wall Insulation (EWI). They have suffered immensely from lack of investment over the last decade and require major and cyclical works to improve their standards.”

Funding costs and sources

The work will be carried out from March 2023 with a completion date of June 2025. In the first year works will be at Trove Court, Kennedy House and Harbour Towers and the second year at Staner Court and Invicta House.

The authority will find out if the bid was successful in February 2023.

Energy performance project

The Government has committed to a £3.8 billion Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) over a 10-year period to improve the energy performance of social rented homes. As the government’s net zero target is legally binding, Thanet council has to carry out this work across the 3,068 homes it owns and manages.

Plans for decarbonisation include replacing carbon-emitting heat systems like gas and oil with clean heat alternatives like electric heat pumps and decarbonised heat networks.

But if these steps are taken on their own it would lead to higher energy costs and cold homes for many residents because Thanet council homes are currently too poorly insulated to be heated efficiently by low carbon technologies.

This means energy efficiency programmes are currently focused on items such as over-cladding, top-up insulation, new gas central heating, upgrading of existing central heating systems and condensing boiler replacements.

Fuel poverty

Thanet has 19.2% of homes facing fuel poverty (12,300 homes) based on figures for 2020.

Living in fuel poverty is defined as: ‘being on a lower income and living in a home which cannot be kept warm at reasonable cost.”

National Energy Action, the lead in UK fuel poverty analysis, estimates that due to the energy price rises and the reductions in household income, there has been an increase in fuel poverty of 50% and this will increase over the next two years.

Large parts of housing in the district were built in an era when coal was the primary source of heating, walls were of single brick construction, meaning older, draughty, inefficient homes that cost more to heat. The negative impact of Covid-19 and rising wholesale energy prices have not been factored into the current statistics.

The highest concentrations of fuel poverty are in the private sector and are found in the wards of Cliftonville West, Margate Central and East Cliff with excess cold concentrated in the Thanet Villages, Dane Valley and Central Harbour.

Energy efficient homes

Part of Thanet council’s plan is to raise the level of energy efficiency in homes. This is demonstrated in Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

An EPC is a document which records how energy efficient a property is and what its environmental impact is. The property will be given a grade between A to G. ‘A’ indicates a high level of energy efficiency, while ‘G’ marks the property as poor in terms of energy efficiency

Government rules mean the minimum EPC rating is to be raised from E to C. The plan is to enforce this from 1 April 2025 for new tenancies, and from 1 April 2028 for existing tenancies.

According to council documents some 51,000 homes in Thanet are energy inefficient (EPC  D or lower), of which 15,000 have very low energy performance of E F or G. The main heating type is gas, however 4,774 properties with low EPCs do not have gas and so have a combination of energy inefficiency and high fuel costs.

A third of the council’s 3,068 properties have no current EPC rating. The authority has a budget of £60,900 to get those EPCs during 2022/23.

Carbon savings

Thanet council documents say getting all homes across the district to EPC level C would be achieved mainly through fabric measures (such as insulation) and some low carbon technology solutions that are grant funded for low income homes on less than £31,000 income.

The document adds: “This would achieve a carbon saving of 873,827,449 (kgCO2). The average investment per home to achieve this would be £8,500, and 28,000 homes would have to spend £5,000 or less.

“To get all homes to net zero by 2050 would require a differing set of measures including greater low carbon technology and heating solutions.”

Thanet council has estimated the CO2 emissions of its housing stock amounts to 9,215 tonnes of CO2 per year. Current estimates show that around 57% of existing TDC properties will require investment for insulation.

Of the council’s newly built properties completed between 2019 – 2021, 98.8% were rated as EPC B, and 1.2% at EPC C.

Heat pump

Thanet council’s decarbonisation plan document says: “Significant changes are required on how we heat our homes for us to achieve decarbonisation of space heating.

“Electricity will heat the majority of our homes via heat pumps. At the moment, electricity is much more expensive than gas so heat pumps can cost more to run than gas boilers – even though heat pumps are more efficient.

“ Our residents do not have the luxury of affording higher bills that may yield lower carbon emissions and therefore, we must consider fuel poverty and reduce energy consumption for our residents.”

Council funding for the energy efficiency programme

The UK government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 78% compared to 1990 by 2035, and to becoming net zero carbon by 2050.

Home energy use contributes to around 21% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and social housing to around 10% of this.

Thanet Cabinet members are expected to approve the proposals for decarbonising council properties when they meet on December 15.


  1. And precisely what is the carbon footprint of reducing this carbon footprint? How many years will it take to offset the carbon footprint of the necessary works with the carbon reduction savings?
    In the educational literature this is referred to as, “Engineering for economics”.

    • You’d have to question the costs of the existing insualtion on the towers and it’s removal and disposal against the savings on fuel bills since it was done.

    • Or train.
      It’s quite ridiculous that petrol and diesel powered cars (the most polluting form of land transport) have benefited from fuel duty freezes (and cuts) over the last decade, whilst buses (better carbon footprint) have had their services slashed or cut completely, and trains (most environmentally friendly) have seen inflation-busting fare increases year on year over the last decade.
      Governments, both national and local, are paying lip service to the impending climate disaster.

    • Tower blocks Peter are notoriously difficult to insulate, which causes the mass damp blackening rooms due to warm moist air condensing on cold wall surfaces! The residents are reluctant to open their windows, and change the air daily, consequently moist air from kitchens, bathrooms, and sometimes oil, or camping gas heaters, condenses on walls, forming ideal conditions for bacterial growth. Eliminate the cold walls, and warm moist air won’t condense on them, and the only way to do that is provide some sort of exterior insulation. But make sure it isn’t combustible first!

      • Well of course no one should be using camping gas or oil heaters in their flats. Then therecwas the case of the fire in a TDC high rise because a tenant decided to work on their motorbike in their lounge.

      • A few years ago I had to visit a resident complaining about damp in their property. Both were serious smokers and never opened a window or the trickle vents. They had heavy net curtains and thick drapes. Never used the vent in the bathroom. In the kitchen pans were bubbling away minus lids.

        I visited with their housing association surveyor who said unless they ventilated the property, the same would happen again.

        It wasn’t damp caused by external factors but heavy condensation. They moved elsewhere and complained the same was happening again.

        What can you do when people refuse to take advice?

        • Common problem, i’ve had tenants remove trickle vent covers , tape over the opening and replace the cover, they didn’t want heat escaping, wouldn’t use the extractors in kitchen or bathroom. Advised them to contact the council private sector housing department if they weren’t happy. Never heard anything.

          I’d guess that eventually there’ll be absurd legislation that gives tenants the right to live as they wish and the landlord be responsible to mitigate lifestyle choices. Totally unworkable.

        • Your right Jemmy, most cases of damp are as a result of life style choices. Many years ago I carried out a survey for a local authority because of constant complaints of “Rising Damp” six floors up in tower blocks! Of course it wasn’t rising damp, it was because most cases involved were occupied by pensioners, single mothers, or disabled people who seldom left the building all day!

          The damp came from cooking, bathrooms, and yes Oil, and sometimes Camping gas heaters, that all give off warm moist air! This condenses on cold surfaces, in bedrooms, hallways etc, that were not heated! If the walls were insulated, so they are not so cold, then warm moist air won’t condense on them! Or as I do myself, occasionally wipe the area of mould with a 50% X 50% water bleach mix, and the bacteria won’t like it, so won’t breed there, simples! People use Oil and Camping gas heaters, because they can’t afford to heat their homes with electricity, or gas boilers! They also cause fires if accidentally knocked over!

          • Jenny, NOT Jemmy, sorry about that Jenny, I am visually impaired, and have to wear a contraption with a magnifying glass in it on my head, and also amber coloured Fitover dark glasses when using a keyboard, and mistakes are inevitable, Happy Christmas!

    • Oh come, come!
      The cargo hub will be net zero (we are told), benefiting from hydrogen fueled aircraft and electric barges.

    • Because gas is the most cost effective, reliable and efficient manner of heating. Solar panels a waste of time in the absence of committed owners wanting to get the best out of them. The money for solar panels should be spent on further insulation and so reduce the amount of gas required.
      The absurdity of burning gas at 50% efficiency to generate electricity to bolster intermiitent green generation is a farce. Running a heatpump on a cold windless night via gas generated electric must be one of the greatest frauds to be put before home owners, and thats before you consider the costs of heat pumps , installation, improved insulation pipework and radiators. Surely much better to just improve insulation to the same level but continue with gas, less disruption capital costs most certainly less, technology people understand, more flexible and if you reduce the energy consumption by say 50% saves lots of gas as well.

  2. As Patrick Moore, BSc Biology PhD Ecology, Greenpeace co-founder, and now a sensible environmentalist (he quotes) has illustrated in detailed graphs recently: ‘changes of temperature in the 10,000 year record and the 140 year record show show the recent temperature changes are normal in magnitude. The 10,000 year record has a range of 3.74 centigrade and the the 140 year record has a range of 1.34 centigrade. The magnitude of the change in the long record is nearly three times greater than the record in the short record.’ Net Zero is a lucrative scam and control method from the likes of the unelected WEF and is based on many dubious claims.. Many scientists and environmentalists dispute the scare mongering, and therefore do not get a platform in the mainstream (sounds familiar from the covid claims where they are now calling for an amnesty for their mistakes). And talk to engineers or home owners involved with heat pumps and they say they just do not work and cannot heat homes adequately, while involving an enormous amount of investment with new radiators and boilers etc. etc. However, better insulation has always been an obvious one. But not cavity wall fillers which have blighted many houses with damp over many years.

    • Patrick Moore did play a significant role in Greenpeace Canada until leaving in the mid ’80s. However despite his claims he wasn’t a founder of Greenpeace. He balances out this oft-repeated porky by frequently blowing his own cover as a defender of the polluting industries, readily admitting that they have to play fast and loose with the science in order to get projects off the ground.
      I think we agree about heat pumps though. You only have to look at them to suspect that they don’t have a great future. And yep, the costs, the disruption … plus how many people have suitable outside space?

  3. What insulation are they using £50 bank notes covering the walls what do they do think of a big number and double it.

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