New Clause 20 - Building regulations: microgeneration

Part of Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:15 pm ar 9 Chwefror 2006.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Minister for energy, Department of Trade and Industry 4:15, 9 Chwefror 2006

I obviously need to receive advice on this occasion, as on many occasions, not least because it will come from a sister Department, if the Secretary of State for that Department will forgive me for using that expression.

Creating the power will allow the option of requiring a full consideration of microgeneration, when justified, as a means of conserving fuel and power. When new buildings are constructed or existing ones are materially altered or their use is changed, the power will ensure that there is an opportunity for those important technologies to contribute to the built environment’s carbon savings.

We know that a draft code for sustainable homes has been issued for public consultation, and in that context, my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning would welcome suggestions about the positive role that microgeneration might play. In her consideration of the responses to the consultation, she has stressed that no options will be ruled out, and she is hopeful that a way can be found to promote microgeneration by, for example, awarding more points for its installation. I therefore urge my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test to advance the case for its use in that context. It is important that the consultation exercise takes full account of the potential benefits of such a technology and how it can contribute to the code’s effectiveness.

Hon. Members made one or two points about existing building regulations. I am told that current building regulations include replacement windows and boilers in existing homes, so upgrades will have to conform to the new regulations, even if they did not previously.

The hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle has obviously made a textual analysis, but not an adequate one, because as he will reflect, page 28 of the draft code says:

“Additional code points available where zero emission energy sources are specified”.

In response to the notion that building regulations do not do enough, the 2006 revision of part L will impose significant improvements in relation to carbon emissions, requiring for homes a reduction of 20 per cent. compared with the existing regulations. The tenor of my remarks is that we are not complacent, and that colleagues are considering the matter.

I agree with the Liberal Democrat spokesman, the hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Andrew Stunell), that we need to consider not only new build but existing dwellings. Most of the Bill is about microgeneration in existing dwellings, including, I hope, those of members of the Committee, should our negotiations progress. That is an important point. There is an obligation on the supply companies, known as the EEC—energy efficiency commitment—obligation, to consider the energy efficiency of customers, not least those on low incomes. In Scotland, there is also an equivalent of the   Warm Front campaign, which has improved energy efficiency and heating systems in 1 million dwellings in England.

I should not want to let the debate pass without acknowledging what has been done. The energy review, which I am conducting, is also taking energy efficiency in existing dwellings very seriously. As I have said, I am therefore happy to support new clause 20.