Patrick Harvie has insisted that people who do not upgrade their heating system on time will not face fines “for the foreseeable future” but landlords who fail to carry out work could be penalised.

The Zero Carbon Buildings Minister published his heat in buildings strategy on Tuesday, which sets out proposals for ensuring all buildings in Scotland have renewable heating systems installed by 2045.

Under the plans, modernised energy efficiency standards, which could take the type of heating system into account, as well as the insulation and fabric of the building, will need to be met from 2028.

The draft plans sets out that privately rented homes will be required to meet a minimum energy efficiency standard no later than 2028, while owner- occupied homes will need to meet those same standards by the end of 2033.

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Mr Harvie said that all homes and non-domestic buildings will be required to end their use of polluting heating by the end of 2045.

The interim report by the Green Heat Finance Taskforce, co-chaired by Mr Harvie, published last week, suggested that people could be “penalised” if they do not carry out the work on time.

The report also touted using council tax or rates as an incentive for building-owners to complete work on time.

Conservative net zero spokesperson, Douglas Lumsden, pressed Mr Harvie over the potential for people to be fined if they do not upgrade their homes.

Mr Lumsden said: “What punishment will there be for home-owners who fail to carry out the required work after the purchase of a property from 2033?

“The consultation seems to suggest civil penalties or building societies and banks getting involved.

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“Can the minister guarantee that home owners will never be punished or even evicted by their building society for non-compliance?”

In response, Mr Harvie said: “I encourage Mr Lumsden and all members to read the detail of what we have published today, as well as the green heat finance taskforce report: part 1.

“Some in the media have picked up on individual lines in that report relating to things such as council tax.”

He added: “The vast bulk of what the task force has written in its report and of what we have written in the documents that we are consulting on is about support and incentives and making the system work for people.

“We have looked at the option of civil penalties in relation to landlords who fail their tenants by not investing in bringing properties up to standard.

"We have not suggested that there would be, at least in the foreseeable future, a role for civil penalties in relation to home-owners.

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“I repeat that the balance of the benefit of the heat transition will be achieved if we place far more emphasis on support and incentives than on amplifying people’s fears by using words such as punishment.”

Unions issue warning over costs of heating upgrades

Union bosses have warned that Mr Harvie’s blueprint risks an attempt to “bully and coerce” people from paying thousands to upgrade their home heating systems.

Claire Greer, GMB Scotland’s organiser in energy, said: “If the Scottish Government believes most Scots are willing or able to invest in heat pumps, it is living in cloud cuckoo land.

“The drive towards renewable energy must be built on realistic plans not a fantasy people have upwards of £10,000 lying around to fit technology still largely untested in Scotland.

“Ministers should stop trying to bully and coerce Scots into spending money they cannot afford on technology they do not need and start building net zero on the energy sector’s existing skills, experience and infrastructure.”