Proposals for a Heat in Buildings Bill: Consultation

Closed 8 Mar 2024

Opened 28 Nov 2023


Like many other countries, Scotland has a legal target to reach ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions.  The way we heat our homes, workplaces and other buildings is the third-largest cause of greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland. There is no way to meet our legal obligation to reach ‘net zero’ without changing the heating systems in the vast majority of our buildings.

The purpose of this consultation is to make you aware of our proposal to make new laws around the heating systems that can be used in homes and places of work, and to invite your views on those proposals.

We plan to:

  • reconfirm that the use of polluting heating systems will be prohibited after 2045; and
  • as a pathway to 2045, require those purchasing a home or business premises to end their use of polluting heating systems within a fixed period following completion of the sale
  • introduce a new law that will require homeowners to make sure that their homes meet a reasonable minimum energy efficiency standard by 2033
  • require private landlords to meet this minimum energy efficiency standard by 2028

The consultation describes our proposals for how home owners and landlords can meet this standard – either through installing a number of simple insulation and draught-proofing measures, where those are possible, or by meeting a certain level of heat demand. We will take all views received into account and adapt our proposals in a way that reflects those.

We know that meeting these requirements is a big task, particularly in the current context of an on-going cost of living crisis that shows no sign of abating in the near term. Our proposals take this into account – they are designed to apply where it is affordable, fair and feasible. We believe that our proposals to provide exemptions where needed ahead of 2045 will provide vital reassurance.

We know too that heat network operators may allow households and businesses to connect into their systems with no (or low) upfront costs. These systems may be attractive to many because they run in a very similar way to your existing gas boiler, and they can make use of local resources like the heat from data centres to provide affordable heating.

But heat networks need the local community to connect in large numbers, especially non-domestic buildings; that’s why in Chapter 4 we propose new laws that will require people and businesses to end their use of polluting heating when a heat network becomes available.

Read the consultation paper 

The bill process: explained

The Bill process explained:


Consultation:  The government will publish its plans and ideas, to understand the level of support they have from the public (especially those most-affected).

The consultation document also allows people who may support the overall intent of the plans, to suggest changes to points of detail.

This is the stage that the Heat in Buildings Bill is at.


Introduction:  The government will draft a Bill, based on the ideas presented during consultation, and possibly adapted based on any feedback it may have received.

The draft Bill is ‘laid’ in Parliament, alongside the government’s analysis of the financial and other impacts of the Bill.


Stage 1:  The Scottish Parliament Committee with most-interest in the Bill will consider the Bill.  It will invite experts to give their views on the Bill, and it may undertake its own consultation.  The Scottish Government will also speak to the Committee about the need for the Bill, and the proposals it makes.

The Committee will provide a Report, summarising its views on the Bill, before a vote takes place on the Bill in the Scottish Parliament chamber.  This vote is to determine if MSPs support the ‘general principles’ of the Bill – i.e. what it is trying to achieve, as opposed to the specifics of how it will achieve its aims.


Stage 2:  Should the Scottish Parliament agree to the general principles of the Bill at Stage 1, it will proceed to Stage 2 where MSPs who sit on the Committee can propose changes to the Bill (amendments).

If an amendment is supported by a majority of Committee members, it is passed, and the Bill is changed.  The Scottish Government may also make amendments to the Bill at this Stage – for example, in response to feedback from the Committee’s Report at Stage 1.


Stage 3:  Once all Stage 2 amendments have been considered, the Bill is re-printed to reflect any changes that were agreed.

The Bill then moves on to Stage 3, where a final vote on the Bill takes place in the Scottish Parliament chamber.  If the Bill receives a majority vote (in most cases), it will become law.  If it does not receive a majority vote, it will not become law.


Royal Assent:  If the Bill is passed, it must receive Royal Assent from the King.  This usually takes place within four weeks of Stage 3, and officially makes a Bill an ‘Act of the Scottish Parliament’.


Regulations:  New laws do not necessarily take effect when they are passed by the Scottish Parliament at Stage 3, nor when they receive Royal Assent.

Many Acts need ‘secondary legislation’ or ‘regulations’ before they can take effect.  This is often because the legislation would be too long or detailed to include in the Act itself, or because changes to laws need to take place quickly without the need to go through the various steps set out above.

In the case of the Heat in Buildings Bill, secondary legislation may be needed, for example, to specify the measures which will form the minimum energy efficiency standard or to say which people may be exempt from the need to meet the Heat in Buildings Standard.

Any secondary legislation or regulations that may be needed in future, would be subject to further consultation.

Useful information about responding to this consultation

As you complete your response, each page will provide the option to 'Save and come back later' at the bottom. This means you can save your progress and return to the consultation at any time before it closes. If you don't use this feature and leave the consultation midway through, your response will be lost.

Once you have submitted your response, you can enter your email address to get a pdf copy of your answers sent to you.

On the 'About You' page at the end of this consultation, organisations will have the opportunity to tell us more about their work and/or how their response was informed.

After the consultation has closed there will be a few months delay before any responses are published. This is because we must check any responses to be published abide by our Terms of Use.

An analysis report will usually be published some months after the consultation has closed. This report will summarise the findings based on all responses submitted. It will be published on the Scottish Government website and you may be notified about it if you choose to share your email address with us. You can also join our consulation mailing list where we regularly list newly published analysis reports (as well as new consultations).


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