SCOTLAND is on “by far” the most ambitious path within the UK to achieve greener and warmer buildings, MSPs were told.

Announcing proposals to transform heating systems dependent on fossil fuels to clean heating by 2045, the Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings Patrick Harvie told the chamber that Scotland is leading the way compared to Westminster.

He insisted that Holyrood is taking an “opposite approach” to that of the UK Government, pointing out a number of commitments dropped by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak earlier this year.

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However, he also admitted that an initial target for one million homes to have low or zero-emission heating by 2030 will not be met until later in the decade.

The proposals, published on Tuesday, set out how privately rented homes will be required to meet minimum energy efficiency standards by 2028, while homeowners will have until the end of 2033 to meet the same requirements.

All homes and non-domestic buildings in Scotland will be required to end their use of heating systems that rely on fossil fuels and pollutants, such as gas boilers, with clean heating such as heat pumps by the end of 2045.

Harvie told MSPs: “The timeline I'm outlining today sees Scotland on by far the most ambitious path within the UK with the deployment of clean heating systems at scale and pace very much faster than the prevailing takeup rate.

“Coupled with our pioneering work on the new build heat standard, on standards for social housing, on energy efficiency, driving the development of heat networks into the next decade and beyond, and to repeat, providing the most generous package of funding support in the UK.

The National: heat pump.

“It's clear that Scotland can have the most ambitious zero carbon programme for buildings ever seen in the UK.”

In a dig at the Tory benches, the minister added that some in the chamber and beyond “regard clean heating merely as the latest front in a climate culture war”.

He added: “They can expect to be disappointed. The days of heating our homes and buildings with fossil fuel and polluting systems are numbered.”

Scottish Tory MSP Miles Briggs (below) described the proposals as a “10-year time bomb for over half of Scotland’s homeowners”.

He added: “SNP and Green ministers have come to the chamber today with a timescale, but not a plan on how they will achieve what they’ve set out.

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“And there is absolutely nothing in this statement today to provide reassurances that SNP and Green ministers actually understand the true costs that will face homeowners the length and breadth of Scotland.”

Harvie responded: “To be honest, I'm not entirely sure if Miles Briggs thinks that giving 10 years' notice of this coming in is in some way bad for homeowners.

“I think it's really important that we give people clarity to plan and businesses clarity and timescale to invest. That long-term time horizon is what will drive up investment in skills, in capacity and innovation.”

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The proposals were welcomed by a number of organisations.

Chris Stark, chief executive of the Climate Change Committee, said that the proposals to decarbonise Scotland’s buildings are “bold”.

He added: “They recognise the importance of a long-term plan for low-carbon heat, with a very welcome focus on upgrading properties at the point of sale.

“There is also greater clarity on the role low-carbon heat networks and tougher obligations on landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties. If adopted, these proposals could become a template for other parts of the UK.”

Lori McElroy, chair of the Existing Homes Alliance, who are a campaign group calling for reform of Scotland’s housing stock, said the proposals are a “step in the right direction” and set out “clear standards” to make homes more affordable to heat.

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She added: “They will help homeowners and landlords understand what they need to do to improve their homes over the coming years.

“Improving the energy efficiency of homes is key to reducing energy bills and by switching to zero emissions heating we can end households’ exposure to unstable fossil fuel prices – helping to lift people out of fuel poverty.”

Ash Regan, Alba's Holyrood leader, welcomed the delay to the 2030 target and that households won't be forced to "remove perfectly good heating systems from their properties long before they are past their natural lifespan".

She added:  "This is particularly welcome in my constituents case where in tenemental properties this simply is not workable - something we can already see from the fact that anyone not living on the ground floor of a flat is not eligible for the installation of a heat pump to replace their gas boiler."

The legislation Harvie intends to bring forward to make the proposals a legal requirement is likely to be passed by Holyrood by 2025, meaning the earliest home or building owners would be required to act would be 2028.

Therefore, Harvie told MSPs that targets for heat transition in "off gas and on gas areas" - 2025 and 2030 - would be scrapped for the singular 2028 deadline in order to be “fairer”.