THE First Minister has clashed with veteran SNP MSP Fergus Ewing over the Scottish Government’s heat pump targets.

During FMQs on Thursday the Conservative MSP Edward Mountain asked whether the Scottish Government’s plans to require off-gas households to replace fossil fuel boilers with heat pumps by 2025 was still going ahead.

Humza Yousaf said his government remained committed to phasing out the installation of new or replacement fossil fuel boilers as outlined in the 2021 Heat and Building Strategy, adding that if they were to meet climate change targets the use of fossil fuel boilers would have to end.

However, Ewing then launched a furious tirade against heat pumps and the Scottish Greens.

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“We all agree that there is an acute housing shortage in this country,” he said.

“Yet Homes for Scotland, Cala Homes, Taylor Woodrow and Persimmon, all major housebuilders, have all warned that the heat pump targets, especially for new builds, have had the effect of forcing up costs of house building so that fewer homes are being built in Scotland.

“So, if the First Minister wants to tackle the housing shortage, will he consign the Green Party, half-baked, pie-in-the-sky policy in the bin where it belongs alongside the deposit return and Highly Protected Marine Areas?

“And will he recycle his Green ministers to the backbenches where they belong and then meet with industry and real experts, actual experts, to work out a plan to solve the problem?”

But Humza Yousaf said the cheers of agreement coming from the Tories should signal to Ewing that his opinion was not “the most sensible”.

“Perhaps the applause from the Conservative benches might to demonstrate to Fergus Ewing that his proposals are not the most sensible that he is suggesting we bring forward.

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“I do not believe that we can simply put our head in the sand and ignore the scale of the climate crisis that we are facing.

“Yes, house building and house construction is facing challenges. Just look at sky-high, rocketing inflation caused by the Conservative government.

“So, yes, let’s tackle skyrocketing inflation. Let’s tackle some of those high construction costs.

“Of course, we have several not just targets but significant investment in house building over the course of this parliament and beyond.

“And when it comes to ensuring that we replace gas boilers, presiding officer, we will not consign that policy at all to the dustbin of history.

“In fact, history will judge very poorly those who are climate sceptics or indeed climate deniers in the face of a climate crisis that is harming our planet”.

In September, Ewing was suspended from the SNP group at Holyrood for one week after backing a no-confidence motion against Scottish Government Green minister Lorna Slater. 

He later skipped the SNP party conference, claiming the party faced "serious decline".