NEW homes and buildings will be banned from running fossil fuels boilers in just two years' time under plans unveiled by the Scottish Government.

But warnings have been issued that the ramped up plans could raise house prices and put pressure on the construction industry.

As well as meeting climate targets, tackling energy demand in low carbon buildings will reduce fuel bills.

The move comes amid a warning that households will "burn through" the UK Government’s emergency package to help with rising heating bills in days.

As part of a previously-promised £400 grant, the money will come in the form of a monthly deduction from bills over six months.

SNP and Greens ministers have launched a consultation on new building heat standards, with one proposal for direct emission heating systems, such as traditional gas boilers, no longer being installed in homes or non-domestic buildings warranted from April 2024.

Under the Scottish Government plans, “any new building warranted after 1 April 2024 will automatically be assumed to meet standards for existing buildings”.

In December 2020, the Scottish Government announced that gas central heating that produces carbon emissions was set to be banned from all newly built homes in Scotland by 2025.

But ministers have ramped up action to help get Scotland’s climate crisis ambitions back on track.

MSPs have pledged to cut 1990 levels of emissions by 75 per cent in just eight years’ time. As part of that ambitious target, the Scottish Government is aiming to decarbonise 1 million buildings by 2030.

The strategy is part of a wider target for Scotland to become net zero by 2045, when the country’s contribution to the climate crisis ended.

Under the proposed 2024 building warrant changes, heating systems would be replaced by alternatives such as heat pumps, solar and electric energy.

Patrick Harvie, zero carbon buildings minister, said: “Scotland’s homes and buildings account for approximately a fifth of all our emissions, and we know that we need to take bold, ambitious steps to ensure we meet our climate obligations.

“New buildings will lead the way in cutting emissions, and earlier this year we published new energy standards that will cut emissions of all new-build homes by nearly a third.

“The proposed regulations are another major change to achieve our climate targets and make our homes and buildings warmer, greener and cheaper to run.”

Action is being ramped up after the SNP’s Net Zero Secretary, Michael Matheson, admitted that annual emissions are expected to “substantially rebound” when the 2021 figures are released.

Statistics for 2020, the latest available, show that Scotland is on track to meet its climate targets, but it is expected to fall behind in the 2021 figures. The Scottish Government was criticised after missing its annual targets for three years in a row before the 2020 figures.

Political opponents have raised concerns the tighter standards for buildings could impact the construction sector.

Scottish Conservative shadow secretary for net zero, Liam Kerr, said: “No-one denies the importance of tackling home emissions on our journey to net zero, but the SNP must ensure that these new plans don’t end up punishing Scotland’s construction industry or driving up property prices even further.

“House prices are already soaring and it is harder than ever for people in Scotland to get on the property ladder. Without significant support and investment from the SNP Government, these proposed requirements may become yet another barrier to owning a home.”

He added: “The SNP have been unable to provide any detail as to where they will find the resources or skilled workforce needed to make a success of these plans in such a short timeframe, and their ambition to ban all new gas boilers within just two years looks utterly unrealistic.

"As ever, the SNP's go-to solution for cutting emissions is to punish people and businesses."

“If the SNP are to meet their emissions targets, they must follow through on these grand plans with realistic action, and deliver the necessary investment so that businesses are not forced to bear additional costs alone.”

Elizabeth Leighton, CEO of Existing Homes Alliance Scotland, said her organisation has “expressed concern about the timescale”.

She added: “We welcome the standards and the move to the zero emissions level, it’s long overdue.

“We do have concerns about the timescale as this does not come in until 2024.

“We are only eight years from meeting our 75 per cent carbon reduction target. We are all feeling that the climate impacts are on our doorstep now with the recent heatwaves.

“But people are putting in gas boilers now when the government wants them phased out.

“People are going to have a brand-new gas boiler in their homes as a stranded vessel, which is really unfair to new homeowners.”