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09 January 2008


Sotto Voce

I was also at the ACE reception and enjoyed Malcolm Wicks knock-about sense of humour.

However, Wick's jovial performance can't disguise the fact that over the past 10 years this administration has singularly failed to introduce any really effective policy measures or fiscal instruments to drive the take-up of energy efficiency measures in the existing building stock. This appalling failure has led inevitably to today’s announcement regarding new nuclear power stations.

Wicks, Brown, Blair et al. should hang their heads in shame for failing to deliver the key commitments contained in the 2002 Energy Efficiency Implementation Plan.

Also culpable is Yvette Cooper for failing to include in the 2006 Part L revisions, the widely supported measures associated consequential improvements (i.e. requiring cost effective energy efficiency measures to be adopted in the existing part of a building, when being extended).

In November 2005 we were promised (by Yvette Cooper) an urgent high-level inter-departmental review of energy efficiency policy and measures associated with the existing stock –over two year latter we are still waiting!

What we have had from CLG is the huge red-herring and distraction of zero carbon new homes by 2016, which even if achieved, will deliver only a small incremental saving (in carbon terms) over the proposed 2010 Part L requirements, but with huge resource (and embodied energy) implications, by forcing unwise investment in renewable technologies attached to buildings. Most of the systems have a very limited life expectancy and in many cases highly questionable performance –if you doubt what I’m saying see: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/07/microwind_chocolate_teapot

So much more could be achieved (in terms of £ invested per Tonne of Carbon saved) if the same investment went into large scale wind/hydro/tidal/wave power and/or improving the energy efficiency of the existing stock!

We have also had the false promise of zero stamp duty for zero carbon homes –anyone who has looked at the SDLT Statutory Instrument will know that the current definition for a zero carbon home will be almost impossible to achieve (except in very exceptional circumstances. Treasury/HMRC have set-aside only £15m to fund zero carbon homes SDLT relief between now and 2016 –this implies that less than 1000 homes will be eligible, out of the 2 million to be built over the next 8 years –another great example of spin and rhetoric triumphing over delivering genuine carbon savings! Ho hum!

Phil Clark

Strong stuff Mr Voice. I didn't mention in the original post that word rhetoric was used twice in the event, once by Wicks himself. Proof that simply using the word itself in the sense of "we need to get beyond rhetoric" is just the latest, er, use of the word rhetoric.

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