The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, has achieved the rare feat of simultaneously incurring the wrath of Brussels and British business over the same piece of legislation.
His Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) is planning to force supermarkets, banks and other companies using large commercial buildings to comply with a new European Commission directive on energy efficiency. Under extra proposals for the legislation, due to be published in April, businesses such as these will have to put on public display a certificate giving their building an energy-efficiency rating.
The European Commission's "Energy Performance of Buildings Directive" was supposed to be made law in the UK at the start of January. Earlier this month the EC wrote to the ODPM, threatening legal action over its failure to do so.
The directive will require the owners of all large commercial buildings to hold certificates showing how efficiently they use energy. Public sector buildings such as libraries will also have to display these certificates, while new developments will have to meet stricter standards on issues such as insulation. Businesses, excluding heavy industry, consume around a third of the energy used in the UK.
But the ODPM has angered retailers by going beyond the remit of the directive by forcing commercial operations whose premises are open to the public, such as shops, to display the certificates as well.
Paul Browne of the British Retail Consortium said: "These kinds of certificate are useful for things like white goods. But I can't see how shoppers will decide to shop somewhere just because they have a good energy-efficiency certificate."
He added that the uncertainty over how the directive will be implemented will discourage new developments.Reuse content