HC Deb 22 March 1991 vol 188 cc239-40W
Mr. Colvin

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which of his Ministers has been given responsibility for energy use by his Department; and what is his or her brief regarding energy efficiency.

Mr. Baldry

I have responsibility for energy efficiency within the Department of the Environment.

My aim is to reduce the Department's own energy consumption by 15 per cent. in real terms over the next five years, in line with the target adopted generally for the Government estate. To this end I am encouraging the Department to implement all practicable energy efficiency schemes and to promote staff awareness of the benefits of saving energy.

As part of the Secretary of State's responsibility for environmental policy we aim to increase public awareness of the link between energy efficiency and the threat of climate change due to the greenhouse effect. The Department's leaflet, "Wake up to what you can do for the Environment", published on 4 March, gives advice on improving energy efficiency in the home and on the road.

We are taking specific measures to increase the energy efficiency of the housing stock. Amendments to the Building Regulations which came into effect on 1 April 1990 should achieve a 20 per cent. improvement in the energy efficiency of new houses, and we will monitor them to see how they can be further improved. We will consider how best to develop and encourage the application of energy labelling schemes for buildings, with the intention of incorporating labelling into the Building Regulations. A model developed by DOE's Building Research Establishment is already in use for assessing the energy requirements of housing.

My Department is running the greenhouse demonstration programme to provide examples of effective energy efficiency in local authority housing. General local authority housing repair and maintenance programmes are supplemented by our estate action programme, targeting particularly rundown council estates. Around a quarter of the money spent is on heating and insulation measures. In private sector housing the new home renovation grants regime enables local authorities to help less well-off people in housing which is not energy efficient. A substantial new programme of research will be undertaken into the barriers to increased energy efficiency in the housing stock.

We are also encouraging local authorities to improve the energy efficiency of their own buildings. During May my hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment and Countryside and I will be addressing a series of seminars organised with the energy efficiency office for local government on the environmental and financial benefits of energy efficiency.