Thursday 5th December 2013 saw over 300 delegates meet in Stratford upon Avon at the National Insulation Association's (NIA) Annual Conference to hear about and discuss the industries latest news and the developments following Government announcements this week on changes to its energy efficiency schemes.
The conference was opened by the NIA's Chair Tony Hardiman MBE who welcomed members to the Conference and informed them that the Autumn Statement would be streamed live and that senor DECC officials would be attending in person to brief them on the proposed changes and answer questions. NIA's Chief Executive, Neil Marshall and Mike Easdon of Essex Insulation who Chairs the NIA Market/Business Development Group then set out NIA’s plans for 2014 to support its members in maximising business opportunities and positioning NIA members as the preferred choice amongst consumers and specifiers.
Delegates then watched the Chancellors Autumn Statement in which he confirmed the proposed changes in the ‘Green Levies’ in order to save £50 on consumer bills.
The proposed changes to the ECO scheme were the hot topic of discussion with Andrew Warren, Director at the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) commenting: "The Government is now planning to cut it’s only scheme designed to specifically help increase energy efficiency and reduce fuel bills amongst low income and fuel poor households. It has always been understood that the future would be in SWI but the proposed 100,000 SWI installations over the next four years is essentially turning the clock back 10 years! This situation needs to be urgently addressed."
Derek Horrocks Chairman of the Sustainable Group who were headline sponsors of the Conference commented in his address to delegates: "The Government doesn't realise the impact of what it's done, the fuel poor will lose out, as around half of them occupy properties that have solid walls and they will have to suffer more winters in cold and draughty properties due to Government decision to cut Solid Wall Insulation by two thirds from 65k per year to just 25k per year."
The day also included a wide range of high profile external speakers including Dave Sowden, CEO of the Micropower Council, Claire Curtiss-Thomas, CEO of the BBA, Paul King CEO of the UKGBC, Lawrence Slade, Chief Operating Officer of Energy UK and Richard Lambert, CEO of the National Landlords Association.
Speaking of the day, Neil Marshall, Chief Executive of the NIA, commented: "This year's Annual Conference focussed on providing our members with details of our plans to support them to maximise business opportunities in 2014 and ensure they had the most up to date information, advice and guidance on the proposed changes to the ECO and Green Deal. It also provided the opportunity to consider future opportunities in the ‘Tomorrows World’ section with our external speakers delivering a number of informative and thought provoking insights into the future for energy efficiency.”
He added: "The NIA and its members are at the forefront in the delivery of the Governments energy efficiency schemes and we will be working closely with Government and other external stakeholders and consumer groups in ensuring that the changes to the ECO and Green Deal deliver the maximum support to consumers in combating rising energy bills and tackling fuel poverty."
An exhibition ran in conjunction with the Conference during the day with around 20 exhibitors from the insulation industry present offering delegates a first-hand experience of experiencing the latest products and services available. Members are advised to book early next year if they wish to secure a stand as this year all places were sold out within 10 days of being launched.
A pre-dinner drinks reception was held in the evening followed by a Gala Dinner with excellent entertainment provided by the TD Jazz Trio, Urban Soul Orchestra and the night being rounded off with a Classic Casino. The evening gave diners the opportunity to discuss the presentations and information gained from the Conference in a relaxed atmosphere and offered excellent networking opportunities.
We would like to again express our gratitude to all the sponsors for this year’s event as their support ensured that the Conference and Gala Dinner retains its reputation as the Insulation Industry Event of the Year.
Feedback received since the event has been extremely positive and planning for the 2014 Conference will commence shortly.