SCOTTISH ministers must reject the UK government’s “nonsense” policy of replacing old gas boilers with air source heat pumps and come up with a better, greener solution, this week’s Go Radio Business Show with Hunter & Haughey heard.

Lord Willie Haughey – who is a refrigeration and air-conditioning engineer by trade – called on the government adviser who recommended this strategy to come on the show to explain their reasoning. He said anyone who thinks that air source heat pumps are the answer to global warming is “completely wrong.”

“This whole thing with Boris Johnson about heat pumps is an utter complete nonsense,” said Lord Haughey, who is the Labour peer and founder of Glasgow-based facilities company, City Facilities Management Holdings.

“This is coming from someone who sells heat pumps and installs heat pumps and has been doing so for 35 years.”

As part of the UK Government’s drive towards achieving ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2050, Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced last week that homeowners in England and Wales would be offered grants of up to £5,000 to help replace old gas boilers with lower carbon alternatives like heat pumps. As well as air source heat pumps, the initiative covers ground source heat pumps, heat networks – a type of community heating scheme – and the potential development of hydrogen home heating systems.

Lord Haughey said the real cost of installing a heat pump was more like £12,000, so would not be affordable for “normal working class men and women.”

“Even with £5,000 from the government, people are still going to have to get finance,” he said.

A more practical solution would be to install an electric boiler and spend the rest of the money enhancing home insulation.

For heating homes 365 days a year, applying the technology of air source heat pumps – which draw heat from the outside air – did not make sense, Lord Haughey said.

With tenement flats in Scotland, there was also the practical challenge of where to fit condensing units – the units fitted to the outside of buildings that drive air source heat pumps.

“No-one is answering these questions,” Lord Haughey said.

Ground source heat pumps, which draw heat from earth and water in the ground, were a far better solution – but were only available to people with enough acreage of land.

“If you’re in a small farm and you’ve got a car park, you can bury the pipes in the ground,” Lord Haughey explained. “There, you’re using geothermal [energy]. And trust me, if everybody had the space, that is the way forward.”

He urged the Scottish Government not to follow the UK government’s strategy on air source heat pumps.

“Trust me, this is up there with the poll tax,” he said. “People will absolutely hate this. And I think that Scotland could be smarter and better here and we can come up with better ideas to be greener. “

Lord Haughey played a noisy sound recording of an air source heat pump that he’d recorded at a wedding in London two weeks ago

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “That was me standing eight feet away from the condensing unit. I’m building 356 apartments around the corner here. Can you imagine if I had to put in 356 of these, which we call in the trade ‘window rattlers’?”

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter said the heat pumps initiative was “another case of a brilliant, laudable, audacious goal.”

“Let’s get the UK to net zero by 2050 – I don’t think anybody disagrees,” he said. “The difficulty comes with: how we do it?”