Angry crowd interrupt M25 environmental protest

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Chaos engulfed the motorway this week when activists from the group Insulate Britain blocked a number of busy junctions. The group, which has been accused of using “guerilla tactics” by Home Secretary Priti Patel, has demanded immediate Government action on home insulation. Scores of protesters have been arrested on Monday and Wednesday, and Surrey Police have appealed for witnesses and dashcam footage.

Insulate Britain have called for a “legally binding national plan” to fully fund a mass effort to insulate millions of homes around the country.

The group has argued the UK has some of the oldest and most energy inefficient homes in the world and that helping British homes become more energy efficient will play a key role in fighting the climate crisis.

In a petition that has so far had more than 2,500 signatures, the group said: “Poor quality housing is bad for people’s health and wellbeing.

“An estimated spend of £10billion to improve the ‘poor’ housing in England could save the NHS £1.4billion p.a. and has been estimated to pay for itself in just over seven years and then accrue further benefits (CCC 2019).”

However, experts at Insulation4less have crunched the numbers to determine the cost of insulating Britain’s “leaky” homes is almost twice the estimate put forward by Insulate Britain.

According to Johnpaul Manning, MD of Insulation4less, the Government could look at spending nearly £18billion on the effort.

The average size UK attic is estimated to be about 581 square feet (54 square metres).

The company then factored in the cost of glass mineral wool and estimated labour costs to be about £692.14 per attic.

And with some 26 million UK homes in need of new insulation, the costs skyrocket to £17,995,640,000.

Police officer speaks to M25 environmental protestors

Mr Manning said: “When people talk about zero emissions, they tend to talk in terms of new inventions.

“Things like electric cars, which naturally will tackle our carbon footprint.

“What people tend to miss however is we have a lot of existing infrastructure in the world which isn’t very climate-friendly – that includes a lot of our homes.”

And the cost of making homes more energy-efficient goes well beyond just insulating attics.

Homes need to be fitted with triple-glazed windows, solar panels and boilers that do not rely on fossil fuels.

According to the Climate Change Committee, the average cost of fully retrofitting a home to net-zero standards is estimated at about £26,000.

That is an overall price tag is £676billion or £27 billion a year for the next 25 years.

Mr Manning added: “We don’t want to put off those fighting for the planet’s future – but want to highlight the mammoth scale of the problem and how much work there is left to be done.

“To insulate the UK alone, which suffers from old fashioned, leaky-energy homes – is going to cost upwards of £17.9 billion.

“And the sooner we start making these retrofits the better.”

The Government has committed to reducing its carbon footprint with the explicit goal of becoming a net-zero nation by 2050.

As part of this goal, the Government is looking to phase out gas boilers in favour of greener options.

An estimated 14 percent of the UK’s greenhouse emissions come from homes.

In a bid to tackle the climate crisis, the Government is hosting the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow this November.

The climate summit is being led by Alok Sharma, the former Secretary of State for Business.

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