HC Deb 05 April 2001 vol 366 cc256-7W
Mr. Laurence Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) which buildings and premises(a) owned and (b) leased by his Department use (i) chlorofluorocarbons and (ii) hydrochlorofluorocarbons for refrigeration and other energy needs; and if he will give details of such use and the reasons for it; [153015]

(2) what his Department's policy is regarding the purchase of (a) hydrocarbons and (b) other environmentally benign refrigerants to meet the refrigeration and other energy needs of buildings and premises (i) owned and (ii) leased by his Department (1) in the UK and (2) elsewhere; and if he will make a statement; [153018]

(3) to what extent (a) the new GCHQ building in Cheltenham and (b) other buildings (i) owned and (ii) leased by his Department use hydrofluorocarbons for refrigeration or air conditioning; how much hydrofluorocarbon has been purchased in each year since 1995; and what plans he has to phase out the (1) purchase and (2) use of hydrofluorocarbons. [153017]

Mr. Battle

[holding answer 9 March 2001]: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office complies fully with the phase-out timetable as agreed in the Montreal Protocol of 1987, and the subsequent revisions laid down by European Commission Regulation 594/91. With the exception of domestic refrigerators (which will be replaced at the end of their natural cycle) all CFC refrigerants and Halon firefighting equipment have been replaced in FCO buildings both at home and overseas.

To date resources have been committed to the eradication of chlorofluorocarbons and Halons, but work is now commencing on the eradication of hydrofluorocarbons. Currently, HCFCs are used extensively throughout the FCO estate, almost exclusively for domestic refrigerators and air conditioning equipment. But extensive use is made of hermetically sealed units which cannot be topped up and therefore pose a minimal risk to the Ozone Layer.

The consortium constructing the new GCHQ building in Cheltenham is using HFC 143A—a zero ozone depleting product which is considered a long-term replacement for CFCs and HCFCs. It is FCO policy that all new buildings under FCO control are charged with synthetic refrigerants. Use of synthetic refrigerant gas is also increasing in larger air conditioning systems, as new or replacement equipment is installed, although progress has been restricted to date by the limited alternatives available in the marketplace.

Information on the use of HCFCs in buildings owned and leased by the FCO, at home and overseas, and on the amount of HCFCs purchased since 1995, is not held centrally and could not be assembled without disproportionate cost.