Heritage Sector: Net Zero

Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons am ar 18 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mary Glindon Mary Glindon Opposition Whip (Commons)

What steps her Department is taking to help the heritage sector reach net zero.

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

Earlier this year, we published a review of the barriers faced by owners of historic homes to reducing their energy consumption. It made a number of commitments across planning, skills and finance to assist the heritage sector on its journey to net zero, including consulting on the role of local listed building consent orders to drive change at the local level.

Photo of Mary Glindon Mary Glindon Opposition Whip (Commons)

In 2022, North Tyneside’s world heritage site Segedunum was successful in accessing funds through the museums estate and development fund for urgent repairs. That will contribute to reducing the site’s carbon footprint. Currently, other than the Heritage Fund and potential regional government funding, there are no other sources of funding that would help cultural and heritage sites meet climate change targets. What are the Government doing directly to ensure that heritage sites can be resilient against climate change and have sustainable futures?

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

I thank the hon. Member for raising that issue. She talked about one of the substantial funds that we have to help repair and restore museums, heritage sites and other activities. I am glad that that is making a big difference in her constituency. We have been looking into the important area of how historic buildings can reduce their energy consumption. It is obviously difficult, since 2% of buildings in the UK are listed. We want to help them to reduce their energy consumption, which is a particular challenge for owners of historic homes. Historic England has guidance to help museums, and we will look at what more we can do.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation, Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation

When it comes to valuable heritage assets, I am really concerned about those housed in the grounds of our many military estates which are not bound by any of the obligations to maintain and care for them. In many cases, the Ministry of Defence and others are pursuing a policy of managed decline, which is allowing those valuable heritage assets to rot under our very noses. May I encourage the Minister—in fact, the Secretary of State—to speak with Ministers in the Ministry of Defence to challenge that policy and see what can be done to address it? I give her advance warning that I am keen to look at that as part of a Select Committee inquiry.

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

I thank my hon. Friend for raising that important point. It is something that we support when an asset is in the community rather than on the existing military estate. I recently visited the battle of Britain bunker at RAF Uxbridge, where there has been an amazing partnership with the local council. She raised an issue specifically about MOD sites that are still in use, which we shall be very happy to look into for her.

Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport)

The Heritage Alliance estimates in its refreshed manifesto that the UK needs to double the number of conservation-skilled retrofit workers if we are to meet our net zero targets by 2050. Our built environment is at risk, yet the Government have stalled on training and have no plan to upskill the next generation. Labour will change the apprenticeship levy, making it more flexible to ensure that workers have the skills they need for the future. What is the Minister doing to meet the workforce challenge of retrofitting our heritage buildings?

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

Our Department has a huge number of initiatives under way to help people to deal with skills shortages, not just in the heritage sector but in the creative industries. The Secretary of State and I were discussing that with the Creative Industries Council just this week. One of the challenges that we face is the dynamism of the workforce and the need to ensure that it has the specific skills of the kind that the hon. Lady mentioned. We are looking at bootcamps and T-levels, which are much more practical vocational skills. I am happy to look into and discuss with the noble Lord Parkinson what more we can do with the heritage sector.