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Air Source Heat Pump Policies – MCS Planning Standards

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(@persephone)
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@jamespa I have good hearing. I do not hear my fridge upstairs. I have accepted the noise only because I am tired of fighting against the system. The system has decided to promote ASHPs and they do it, whether I want it or not. The system has decided that any odd installation should eventually been granted a permission and they do it, whether it ruins people's lives or not. The system has decided that Councils have the power of discretion to ignore planning regulations in relation to ASHPs and they do it whether I like it or not. I do not understand all the fuss about MCS: all their research about the noise impact of ASHPs, MCS certification Bodies, MCS certified installers, MCS trainings, etc while eventually all the policies about it can be breached and the noise impact of ASHPs is being dealt with as "neighbourly disputes" over a barking dog, for instance. Also, fan/flue noise is partly similar to ASHP, but not totally. The pulsating hum noise of ASHPs can not be detected by noise measurements. I believe MCS compliance means compliance with pulsating noise as the researchers have worked on it, but NR does not take such noises into consideration. If people can breach MCS, and Councils can use NR instead, as a thorough method of assessment for measuring the noise impact of ASHPs, then why do we need MCS at all?  

According to legislations, if people use the Government funds for ASHPs, the installer must be MCS certified and the installation must comply with MCS. This is not happening in real life which is a waste of tax-payers money. Developers and MCS certified installers provide false MCS certificates for Funding Schemes, and the Schemes pay all of them because they do not check the accuracy of certificates.  

 


   
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(@jamespa)
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@persephone I think its worth unpacking your recent post, as it raises several points which are worth considering separately rather than conflating.

Posted by: @persephone

The system has decided to promote ASHPs and they do it, whether I want it or not

Lets examine this one first.  Its actually much more difficult to get permission to install an ASHP than to get permission to install any other form of heating, or indeed other developments which equally or more intrusive.  The PD rights for gas and oil boilers allow you to install a flue more or less anywhere and so in practice the only recourse a neighbour has is to nuisance laws, which are difficult to invoke.  There is absolutely no restriction in planning law on who installs it.

On the other hand, to meet the planning conditions for the installation of an ashp, there are a whole suite of conditions that must be met, including that it must be installed by a particular class of people to particular standards (which go far beyond noise standards) in specific locations with minimal visual and amenity impact and must be no more than 0.6cu m.  Yet anyone can erect a 2.5m high ancillary building in their back garden without planning consent, so long as it and the original building together occupy no more than 50% of the plot.  I think its fair to say that the planning rules are heavily weighted against ASHPs and permit much more intrusive developments without permission.

If your installation is not capable of being done under permitted development then you require express consent, and some LPAs (mine included, but there are others) impose conditions which are not technically feasible to meet.

Now it is true that there are financial incentives to install ASHPs, but to access these you first have to get past the planning obstacle.  

Posted by: @persephone

The system has decided that any odd installation should eventually been granted a permission and they do it, whether it ruins people's lives or not. The system has decided that Councils have the power of discretion to ignore planning regulations in relation to ASHPs and they do it whether I like it or not.

Where the very restricted permitted development rights (relative to PD rights for other forms of heating and other developments) don't apply, the LPAS has the say, as it does with any other development however intrusive.  So ASHPs are in no way favoured over other developments, for example a noisy distribution centre, road, race track or anything else which might disturb neighbours.  

Posted by: @persephone

I do not understand all the fuss about MCS: all their research about the noise impact of ASHPs, MCS certification Bodies, MCS certified installers, MCS trainings, etc while eventually all the policies about it can be breached and the noise impact of ASHPs is being dealt with as "neighbourly disputes" over a barking dog, for instance. 

MCS is fundamentally a certification body for installers, funded by installers.  Like absolutely any other dispute with neighbours, enforcement is through the local authority or the courts, not an industry-funded body.  You cannot expect an industry funded body to deal with such matters, and the law doesn't in this field or any other of which I know.

Posted by: @persephone

I believe MCS compliance means compliance with pulsating noise as the researchers have worked on it, but NR does not take such noises into consideration.

Where express consent is sought LPAs are at liberty to take into account such factors.  On the other hand, where express consent is not sought, such matters can be dealt with, if sufficiently serious, under nuisance legislation, just like any other development under PD rights which equally may cause annoyance not sufficient to qualify as nuisance.

Posted by: @persephone

If people can breach MCS, and Councils can use NR instead, as a thorough method of assessment for measuring the noise impact of ASHPs, then why do we need MCS at all?

MCS performs two functions.  1) they are a requirement to get a government grant and 2) they are a requirement if you wish to install under PD. 

The first has parallels in other fields where governments give grants - its quite common that if you want a grant you must go to a source that has been verified by a specific class of body. 

The second has absolutely no parallel at all beyond the renewable sector so far as I am aware, and in my opinion is out of order and a misuse of the planning system (given that its MCS that have written themselves into the PD requirements).  So as regards their role in PD I would wholeheartedly agree with you and have said so publicly, to MLUHC, and even to MCS on many occasions

Posted by: @persephone

According to legislations, if people use the Government funds for ASHPs, the installer must be MCS certified and the installation must comply with MCS. This is not happening in real life which is a waste of tax-payers money. Developers and MCS certified installers provide false MCS certificates for Funding Schemes, and the Schemes pay all of them because they do not check the accuracy of certificates.  

 

Do you have evidence for this allegation?

 

In summary I would assess the position thus:

 

  • ASHPs (and some other renewables) are positively discriminated against by the planning system, relative to other heating technologies and other, more intrusive, developments which are allowed under PD.
  • As a counter to that, if you can get permission (under PD or express) then the Government does provide a financial subsidy.
  • The position of MCS in planning rules is an anomaly and should be eliminated
  • The position of MCS as a gateway to government funding, however, is a different matter which has parallels in other areas and may thus be justifiable, although it would be MUCH better if there were competition not a closed shop/monopoly
  • responsibility for enforcement (in the case of problems experienced by neighbours) doesn't and cannot possibly (because of conflict of interest) lie with industry bodies paid for by the industry.  It does (and in my opinion has to) lie with public services ie the courts or local authorities.  Of course these must be adequately funded to function well, which some would argue they are not, but thats a political choice made by electors.

 

Incidentally I dont think you answered this question, and I would be interested to know: Whats the nature of the sound that you hear and when does it occur (how often, when  - time of day, year etc)?

This post was modified 5 months ago 7 times by JamesPa

   
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Toodles
(@toodles)
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@persephone I can’t speak for others Persephone, but they (the MCS) certainly did check with me; I had a long phone call from them checking that the work had been carried out, in full and to my satisfaction. The speaker was very precise and I suspect was going through a form to check nothing was missed out. Different strokes for different folks maybe. Regards, Toodles.

Toodles, 76 years young and hoping to see 100 and make some ROI on my renewable energy investment!


   
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(@noburn)
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Posted by: @toodles

@persephone I can’t speak for others Persephone, but they (the MCS) certainly did check with me; I had a long phone call from them checking that the work had been carried out, in full and to my satisfaction. The speaker was very precise and I suspect was going through a form to check nothing was missed out. Different strokes for different folks maybe. Regards, Toodles.

@toodles Same here. A couple of weeks after installation completed I had phone call from MCS checking that a) I had actually had a Heat Pump installed and my address wasn't part of some criminal fraud, and b) everything was completed satisfactory. As you say, precise questions.

 


   
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(@jamespa)
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Posted by: @noburn

Posted by: @toodles

@persephone I can’t speak for others Persephone, but they (the MCS) certainly did check with me; I had a long phone call from them checking that the work had been carried out, in full and to my satisfaction. The speaker was very precise and I suspect was going through a form to check nothing was missed out. Different strokes for different folks maybe. Regards, Toodles.

@toodles Same here. A couple of weeks after installation completed I had phone call from MCS checking that a) I had actually had a Heat Pump installed and my address wasn't part of some criminal fraud, and b) everything was completed satisfactory. As you say, precise questions.

 

That's very good to know.

I think the point @persephone may be making is that MCS don't phone the neighbours to check that they are happy. 

To me that's absolutely no surprise.  Its a mistake to imagine that MCS  (funded principally by installers) has any role in enforcement for the benefit of neighbouring properties.  To have such a role would be a major conflict of interest and also would involve MCS getting involved with people that neither they, nor the installers that they certify, have any contract with. That would be a quite extraordinary situation which is why, it is clear to me, it must be (and is) the responsibility of local authority/courts to undertake any enforcement in favour of neighbours.  

I think we all need to be crystal clear of the limitations in the roles the various bodies take.

 

This post was modified 5 months ago 2 times by JamesPa

   
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(@persephone)
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Posted by: @jamespa

Do you have evidence for this allegation?

Here is a direct quote "To be eligible to one of our funding – the Home Energy Scotland Grand and Loan, you need to be an owner occupier and you must submit quotes from MCS certified installers in case you apply for any renewable technology".

Please also see the below images from MCS-020, MCS-023, and MCS-025

image
image
image

 


   
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(@jamespa)
Noble Member Contributor
4933 kWhs
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 785
 

Posted by: @persephone

Posted by: @jamespa

Do you have evidence for this allegation?

Here is a direct quote "To be eligible to one of our funding – the Home Energy Scotland Grand and Loan, you need to be an owner occupier and you must submit quotes from MCS certified installers in case you apply for any renewable technology".

Please also see the below images from MCS-020, MCS-023, and MCS-025

-- Attachment is not available --
-- Attachment is not available --
-- Attachment is not available --

 

Noted.  Your allegation was:

"Developers and MCS certified installers provide false MCS certificates for Funding Schemes, and the Schemes pay all of them because they do not check the accuracy of certificates."

My question was, what evidence is there to support this quite serious allegations about MCS in particular?

 


   
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(@persephone)
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Joined: 7 months ago
Posts: 66
Topic starter  

Posted by: @jamespa

Whats the nature of the sound that you hear and when does it occur (how often, when  - time of day, year etc)?

Nature of the sound: buzzing and pulsating humming noise. I do not hear them when at work (office - classroom). My husband and I used to leave our bedroom window slightly ajar all year long, but for the past three years we had to keep the window closed even in summer time. 

How often: it depends, but mostly as following

all year >> 4-5 am (I assume it provides for the morning shower of my neighbour as I can see their bathroom window. They use it around 7am) +  after 6 pm

Cold season/nights >> around 9-10-11-12 night + around 3 am 

 


   
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(@persephone)
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Posts: 66
Topic starter  

@jamespa

According to Home Energy Scotland, "Home Energy Scotland is not able to check the certification, we are just the referral point. ...  When customer provides the quotes from chosen installers they will check if it has a MCS certificate before issuing the funding, but they will not check that it is properly installed. The installers self-certificate with the MCS".

According to MCS Senior Helpdesk Analyst, "If the installer is found to fabricate documentation, they risk removal from the scheme. This action is something to be decided form the certification body, as they will be the party that determine if the documentation is compliant with the MCS standards".

According to NAPIT (certification body), only the owners can make a complaint for non-compliance with MCS. In other words, if an owner and an MCS installer decide to breach MCS in favour of the owner and install an ASHP where the neighbour suffers, but not the owner; NAPIT would do nothing about it! This is what has happened in my case: MCS certified installer provided a fabricated MCS certificate and breached MCS, but NAPIT turns a blind eye on it and state I cannot make a complaint about the non-compliance. MCS also ignores the issue because they have no enforcement power. They can only remove the installer if NAPIT reports them, which they wont.  


   
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(@jamespa)
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Posted by: @persephone

@jamespa Here is their response to my question: 

"Home Energy Scotland is not able to check the certification, we are just the referral point. ...  When customer provides the quotes from chosen installers they will check if it has a MCS certificate before issuing the funding, but they will not check that it is properly installed. The installers self-certificate with the MCS".

Annoying but not surprising, HES is a funding body and so wouldn't check installation quality.

I'm still not sure how that proves that MCS installers provide false certificates'. If anything it tends to disprove it because HES say they don't check the end certificate, only that the contractor MCS accredited.

 


   
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(@persephone)
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Posts: 66
Topic starter  

Posted by: @jamespa

it must be (and is) the responsibility of local authority/courts to undertake any enforcement in favour of neighbours.  

The problem with local councils is that they prefer approving any odd installation rather than taking enforcement action. The installer and developers are aware of the fact, so they do whatever they want to. Local councils eventually use their power of discretion to justify anything. 


   
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(@persephone)
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Joined: 7 months ago
Posts: 66
Topic starter  

Posted by: @toodles

checking that the work had been carried out, in full and to my satisfaction.

I don't say all installers do a bad job. I say if they want to, they can breach MCS with impunity because no one is responsible to enforce it. I am sure my neighbour's installation is to 'their satisfaction', but it is not compliant with MCS, and the noise has ruined my life. 


   
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