THE boss of a North-East boiler business has written to the climate change minister warning millions could be plunged into fuel poverty if the government embarks on a proposed strategy to ban all domestic gas boilers.

In the letter Ian Henderson, the managing director and founder of Boiler Plan, stressed that any move towards decarbonisation can only be successfully achieved if there is a viable, affordable and practical alternative to the heating of homes on such a mass scale.

The government is due to publish a white paper later this year setting out the major decisions the UK must make if it is to meet its target of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Climate change minister Lord Duncan of Springbank revealed that the white paper will consider banning gas boilers from homes altogether although it is understood that any ban would be introduced incrementally over the next ten years.

However, it is unclear whether homeowners will be required to cover the cost of the government’s plans, if there are enough qualified heating engineers to carry out the work but perhaps crucially if a practical carbon neutral alternative is readily available to meet such widespread demand.

More than 80 per cent of domestic homes across the UK rely on gas central heating and the only current viable alternative is electric heating. However, most of this electricity is generated by coal and gas-fired power stations.

Cramlington-based Boiler Plan, one of the UK’s leading providers of boiler installations, servicing and repairs, says the industry is already producing more efficient boilers and adapting alternative technologies – such as infrared heating panels, solar thermal panels, biomass boilers and heat pumps.

In addition, the possibility of hydrogen as a heating fuel is being investigated, which if it is to be zero carbon emission would have to be produced using renewable energy.

Mr Henderson said: “The industry accepts the need to decarbonise the UK’s domestic heating, but there must produce a viable, realistic strategy which is both practical and affordable as well as ensuring the necessary infrastructure is in place.

“The government must also offer extensive support to both homeowners and the heating industry who will inevitably be the ones given the responsibility of swapping every gas boiler in the country.

“If these critical issues are not thought through properly, millions of people could potentially be left in fuel poverty and saddled with huge costs. The government needs to ensure it works in partnership with the heating industry if it is to achieve its stated aims otherwise there is a very real danger that the resulting strategy will lead to an unworkable solution.”