Thursday 4th December 2014 saw some 300 delegates meet in Hinckley at the National Insulation Association's (NIA) Annual Conference to hear about and discuss the industries latest news and Government policies.
The conference was opened by the NIA's Chair, Tony Hardiman MBE who welcomed the NIA members and external guests to the Conference and set out the agenda for the day which he hoped delegates would find interesting and informative. He stressed that 2014 had been a ‘very challenging year’ for the industry and informed delegates that the NIA had met Amber Rudd MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Department of Energy and Climate Change the previous day to discuss key industry issues and that she would be addressing the conference via a video stream. In addition, senior officials from DECC and DCLG would be attending the Conference to brief delegates on the latest policy developments and to answer questions.
NIA's Chief Executive, Neil Marshall, then set out the NIA's ambitious plans for 2015 to support its members in maximising business opportunities and positioning NIA members as the preferred choice to carry out work with consumers, funders and specifiers. Priority work areas included influencing Government and energy companies policies and schemes, helping members access opportunities in all market sectors including new build and commercial, promoting the benefits of insulation and using NIA members and ensuring members were provided with timely information and advice to aid business planning.
Bryn Kewley, Campaigner, Energy Bill Revolution, started the external guest speaker line up with a passionate speech on the organisations’ goal of improving 2 million low income properties to EPC band C by 2020, highlighting the need for energy efficiency to be included in the UK's national infrastructure plan. In a video speech Amber Rudd made reference to the positive meeting she had had with the Chair and Chief Executive of the NIA the previous day and that she looked forward to continuing the constructive dialogue with the NIA. She thanked the industry for helping 1 million households to improve their energy efficiency and went on to say that Government has tried to provide greater certainty to the industry by extending the ECO to 2017.
Jonathan Reynolds MP, Labour Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change commented in his speech that ‘The UK currently has one of the worst fuel poverty records in Europe’ and that ‘the current schemes just do not work.’ He described his party's policy ideas and vision for the future pointing out that his party would include energy efficiency as part of a national infrastructure plan. Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party stressed her support for energy efficiency to be a national infrastructure priority and that every home should be warm and comfortable to live in.
Mike Easdon, Sales and Marketing Director of InBuild who were headline sponsors of the conference commented in his address to delegates: "The theme of this year's conference 'Building a sustainable future' is key as our industry can no longer exist in its current format and suffer the ups and downs of Government schemes. As a company we have had to diversify into multiple measures and different market sectors including new build and commercial. In fact in order to survive companies can no longer be one-trick ponies."
The day also included a number of other high profile external speakers including; Allen Wilen, Economics Director of Glenigan, Rob Pannell, MD of the Zero Carbon Hub, Nigel Banks, Group Sustainability Director, Keepmoat, Gordon Ronald, Operations Director from Fusion 21, Paul Decort, Department for Communities and Local Government and Richard Mellish from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. They talked about policy and regulatory drivers, the size, shape and structure of key market sectors for insulation going forward and the opportunities available in these and how they were working closely with the NIA to develop the opportunities and help NIA members access these.
Summing up the day, Tony Hardiman, Chair of the NIA, commented: "The focus of this year’s Conference has been on ensuring that our members have the most up to date information, advice and guidance on the variety of business opportunities available to them going forward and how the NIA will be supporting them in accessing these”. He concluded by thanking the external speakers for their “informative and thought provoking” presentations on current and future opportunities for the insulation industry.
NIA Conference sponsors include: Essex Insulation, Hamilton (Building Contractors) Limited, Stroma Certification, SIG360 Retrofit, SPS Envirowall Ltd, Stewart Energy Insulation Ltd, Isover, Saint-Gobain Weber.