By Emily Ledger
Last week, UK chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the government’s new Green Home Grant. The move will subsidise part of the cost of implementing energy-saving measures such as insulation and double-glazing. Subsequently, Guy winterflood, chairman of HempFlax – the biggest hemp producer and processor in Europe – has insisted that expansion of the hemp industry could play an important role in the UK’s green homes revolution.
The new government grant scheme is set to offer homeowners and landlords in England a voucher of up to £5,000 to help cover the cost of green home improvements. This voucher aims to cover up to two-thirds of total installation costs. For low-income households, the limit will be raised to £10,000 per household.
It is hoped that the scheme will contribute to the nation’s mission to become carbon neutral by 2030. The vouchers, which will be offered to homeowners and landlords from September, makes up part of the government’s £2billion green homes revolution.
Although the move has been widely praised, some critics insist that not enough is being done to effectively cut carbon emissions. For example, Mr. Winterflood stresses that current widely-used insulation materials are far from green.
In a recent press release, the chairman of HempFlax stated:
“We are delighted to learn of the chancellor’s Green Homes Grant, the lion’s share of which will be spent on insulating homes. While all insulation does cut carbon emissions – and bills – the vast majority of insulation materials used in UK homes are far from green.”
Synthetic insulation, such as fibreglass, is commonly used in cavity wall, floor, and roof insulation in the UK. However, an increasing selection of insulations made from natural and recycled materials are becoming available.
Nonetheless, hemp may offer a carbon-negative option for construction and insulation materials. While the hemp plant grows, it actively absorbs an impressive amount of CO2 from the atmosphere. This means that hemp insulation works to neutralise carbon output before it has even been installed in people’s homes.
Guy Winterflood continued:
“Hemp insulation’s triumvirate of benefits – carbon negativity, superior thermal resistance and breathability – should be enough to convince the government and consumers that there really is only one insulation product to spend your Green Homes Grant on.”
Furthermore, this form of insulation is thought to be just as effective as other commonly-used insulation materials. However, hemp insulation is considered to be relatively expensive in comparison to other options. This may be down to the lack of supply of hemp in the UK.
The argument for expanding the UK’s hemp industry has gained more and more traction over recent years. Last month, drug reform advocates Volteface launched the Pleasant Lands campaign which calls for hemp reform. It is hoped that as the industry, and as a result supply, is increased, hemp products will become more affordable.
On the other hand, Winterflood believes that many UK consumers “would pay a premium for more sustainable products”.